Social Evil Sells

The hottest movie in vietnam has a surprise twist: it's government propaganda. When Bar Girls was released in February, ticket lines went around the block, and eager filmgoers paid triple price to scalpers. The morality play about prostitution has taken in $1 million to become Vietnam's highest-grossing film ever, smashing records set by Korean and Hollywood imports. Not bad for a cadre-dominated movie industry in which the People's Army runs the major studio and one of last year's most acclaimed films is titled Hai Binh Builds a Hydropower Plant.

But Bar Girls, produced by Ho Chi Minh City's...

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