Bui Doi Film
Bui Doi: Life Like Dust is a film that allows us to step into the life of Ricky Phan, a Vietnamese immigrant who arrives to the United States and becomes a part of the gang known as Bui Doi - Bui Doi Film introduction. Ricky explains his struggles he had in Vietnam along with the struggles he experienced while growing up in the United States. While in Vietnam he had to work at a young age and he had a strong envy towards other children who had the opportunities to do the things he didn’t get to do. He wanted to be able to play, to be a child, but instead he was forced to sell bread in the streets.
It frustrated him so badly, that one day he even gave away all his bread to a monkey just to get rid of it and go play. Once he arrived to America he saw hope for new things. He described it as “being born again into a whole new world”. The big houses astonished him and made him feel like he was in place that was so pretty and dreamy. Unfortunately, things changed once he enrolled into school. The other children picked on him and made racial insults which resulted in him wanting to only associate himself with other Vietnamese.
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These were people who he could relate to and speak his language with, people who eventually became his second family, and these group of people were part of the Bui Doi gang. In the book Drown, the character Junior shares very similar struggles that Ricky shows in the film. America was the dream world for Junior and for Ricky. Yet once they arrived to America they both couldn’t seem to find a future for themselves outside of what they had decided was predestined to happen.
The life Junior chose in America which was to sell drugs and not go to college, and the gang life Ricky chose instead of taking his mother’s advice, has made them both feel incapable of doing anything good for themselves. Ricky enjoyed his gang involvement and was eager to live it up. Good times with his new family made him feel like he was living in a movie similar to the gangster movies he used to watch and dream about. Junior was a little different. The lifestyle he chose wasn’t something he dreamed of or even enjoyed, it was just what he felt he was supposed to do.
It was the easy route and it was also something that helped him mask his true self and his interest for reading which he tried to hide from people. Ricky and Junior also had their differences as far as who their primary influences were. Junior grew up with the company of his older brother who insisted on instilling his bad habits into Junior and telling him that someday he would be able to have all the fun that his big brother was having. Even though Junior didn’t necessarily agree, it was what he was expected to follow.
With no real guidance towards the right path, Junior caved in, gave up on big things, and just never saw himself as more than what he was. Ricky shared the same result, but with a different mindset towards the ones he was influenced by. He did struggle as a child, but he took the wrong path more willingly. Even though his mother encouraged him to stay focused in school, all he wanted to do was hang out with the crowd he adored. He felt like he belonged, and all the bad choices were just a part of his gangster life fantasy.
He had the Bui Doi by his side and that’s all he needed. While both these characters had the opportunity to have a good future in America, they ventured so far away from it that it became something that seemed unattainable. With Junior feeling less willing but more obligated, and Ricky vice versa, the struggle they grew up with turned into the only life they know. The dream of having it all in America never actually came true, and their lives that were like dust going wherever the wind takes them, came to a halt, with no future in sight.