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Limited Series.

Aired On: Max.

Release Date: 04/14/24.
Comedy. Drama. History.

"Near the end of the Vietnam War, a plant who was embedded in the South Vietnam army flees to the United States and takes up residence in a refugee community where he continues to secretly spy and report back to the Viet Cong."


One of our modern masters returns again with a spy thriller TV-Miniseries. Trailing off his AMC series The Little Drummer Girl, and his most recent feature Decision to Leave, Park Chan-Wook partners up with Don McKellar to adapt the Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Sympathizer, to television.


Following The Captain, a communist double agent, and his journey in America after the Fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam war. There he reports back intelegence back to the Viet Cong while also navigating a new life in America. Leading the cast is Hoa Xuande as The Captain, and he’s supported by a multifaceted Robert Downey Jr, Sandra Oh, Fred Nguyen, and many many other surprising faces. With the first three episodes directed by Park Chan Wook, an episode directed by City of God’s Fernando Meirelles, and the final chunk directed by Marc Munden, The Sympathizer results in a riveting miniseries that’s dazzling with incredible style.


As the series starts towards the end of the Vietnam war, the series follows The Captain constantly contemplating his involvement in this infiltration. He’s even involved with a group of friends where one is also a communist double agent, and the other is who’s lost much to the communists. It’s a dilemma that sends him on a gripping journey. From an assassination, to a film set, to the new communities created by the southern Vietnamese immigrants after their trek to America, everywhere he goes in the series ties into his constant struggle with his ideology. Hoa Xuande carries this role with dazzling charisma and power. Not to mention that every situation he’s in, there’s always Robert Downey Jr, as some different character. Downey Jr’s multiple roles in this create for some amazing scenes, and a subtext that unravels deeper and deeper into fantastic territories.


There’s not only contemplations on communism and capitalism, but there’s also contemplations on colonialism and America’s very destructive role in the Vietnam War. One episode in particular takes these ideas into one excellent piece of satire that takes place entirely on a movie set. Incredibly reminiscent of Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder where Robert Downey Jr plays an Australian actor making a controversial decision to act as a Black US Army Soldier in a Vietnam War film. This episode of The Sympathizer feels as it’s reflecting on Downey’s performance in the 2008 satire, but also decades of Hollywood filmmaking that’s propagated the conflict of the Vietnam war to platform white supremacy and capitalism. It’s such a genius written episode and quite possibly one of the top Television episodes of this decade.


The Sympathizer is such a fantastic spy thriller that sends us on a journey that’s all hilarious, devastating, and all in all just incredibly riveting. There’s just constant talent in front of and behind the camera, that I’m sure it’ll not only shine as staples in each actor’s respective filmographies, but it’s going to be an immediate staple of 2020’s television. 

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