Trung Phan Profile picture
Jun 12, 2020 11 tweets 6 min read Read on X
1/ Apocalypse Now: The Club

Many of you will stream Spike Lee's #Da5Bloods on Netflix this weekend.

An early scene takes place in a Ho Chi Minh City club, Apocalypse Now (aka Apo).

I lived in HCMC for 5 yrs and went to Apo ALOT.

The club has a crazy story.

Here it is. 👇
2/ The venue is named after the classic 1979 Vietnam War movie, Apocalypse Now.

It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, capping off the greatest stretch a filmmaker has ever had:

1972: The Godfather
1974: The Conversation
1974: The Godfather II
1979: Apocalypse Now ImageImageImageImage
3/ The film (adapted from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness) is extremely dark and its production was insane:

∙ Martin Sheen had a heart attack
∙ Marlon Brando showed up obese
∙ Filming halted by a typhoon that hit the Philippines
∙ Coppola almost bankrupted financing it ImageImageImageImage
4/ The club named after the movie opened in 1991.

It was one of the first western-type nightlife venues in Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon (1975) and the implementation of semi-free market Doi Moi economic reforms (1986) but before normalization of relations with the US (1995).
5/ Per a 1992 Reuters article, the club's founder was a 25-year old Vietnamese who went by a single name (Diep).

He was capitalizing on the in-flow of foreigners as the Communist party relaxed its hardline ways.

He named it Apocalypse Now because "everyone knows the movie". ImageImage
6/ Apparently for the club's opening, Martin Sheen signed the Apocalypse Now poster wall art that's seen in Da 5 Bloods (with greetings to Diep, of course). Image
7/ The 1992 Reuter article continues:

"Old Saigon hands say the city is regaining some of its freewheeling wartime character, when tens of thousands of prostitutes plied their trade with American soldiers on leave."

Diplomats, expats, journos, biz-men, locals were all patrons.
8/ Today, Apo maintains the same character, with the same diverse mix of people.

The venue has a big cavernous dance floor where -- as my Viet cousins put it -- the "ladies of the night" congregate to techno music.

There is also inexplicably a "tiki" bar area... Image
9/ ...and my personal favourite, an outdoor BBQ pit that serves the best hot dogs in Southeast Asia. ImageImageImage
10/ For some inexplicable reason, the legendary haunt is only ranked 23rd in Tripadvisor's top nightlife venues in Ho Chi Minh City (or as the real OG's call it --> Saigon).

Whenever you can travel next and end up here (and you will), please help rectify this with some 5-stars. Image
11/ Anyways, if you enjoyed...read my article I just wrote about Da 5 Bloods & The Vietnam War.

trungtphan.com/da-5-bloods-sh…

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More from @TrungTPhan

May 20
Details from Red Lobster’s bankruptcy filing are wild and so much mismanagement:

▫️$1B in debt, $30m in cash
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Link: document.epiq11.com/document/getdo…Image
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Red Lobster needed Yukitaka Yamaguchi — aka Japan’s Tuna King (sleeps 3 hours a day and knows where any fish is from on a single bite) — to run quality control.

This dude would not have put up with low-quality seafood slop. readtrung.com/p/becoming-the…
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Apr 4
Steve Cohen’s setup includes renting a 2nd hotel room when he travels so his team can re-build a replica of his 12-monitor work station for him in it. Image
From the book Black Edge:

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I also have a 12-monitor setup to help research app customers reset their passwords.Bearly.AI
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Apr 3
Francis Ford Coppola’s new film “Megalopolis” cost $120m and he self-financed it (including money from selling his winery). 

Coppola is a legend of “going all in” and “putting skin in the game”. 

The GOAT example is “Apocalypse Now”, his classic 1979 war film with arguably the most insane production story ever. 

Let’s rewind to 1975, the year Copolla turned 36: he is on top of Hollywood after directing “The Godfather” (1972) and “The Godfather II” (1974). 

What does Coppola choose to do next? Make a film about the Vietnam War. The script was based on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, the 1889 novel about the horrors of colonialism in the Belgian Congo.

The major studios all said “no” to Coppola’s pitch for three major reasons:

1️⃣ He wanted full creative control
2️⃣ He wanted to own all of the film rights
3️⃣ The Fall of Saigon happened in April 1975 and the American audience wasn’t exactly asking for a Vietnam War film (the studios wanted Coppola to make another Mafia flick)

Coppola was undeterred and made a huge bet.

“The Godfather II” cost $14m and the director estimated that “Apocalypse Now” would be the same budget. 

He put up $7m (mostly from those sweet Godfather checks) and raised another $7m from United Artists (which bought domestic distribution rights for ~7 years). 

But the project was a disaster from the start. 

Filming started in The Philippines in March 1976 and was supposed to last 3-4 months…it would take 16 months: 

▫️Harvey Keitel was the initial lead but Coppola fired him after one week.

▫️Martin Sheen (Captain Willard) took the lead role but drank so much on set that he gave himself a stress-induced heart attack and almost died. 

▫️Dennis Hopper was doing 3g of coke and 20+ drinks a day while on set (him and Marlon Brandon also hated each other).

▫️A typhoon destroyed 80% of the set and delayed filming for 2-3 months. 

▫️Actual dead bodies — stolen from a local grave — were used on set and the Filipino government and its strongman leader Ferdinand Marcos threatened to shut down production after finding out. 

▫️Marlon Brando (Col. Kurtz) demanded a huge fee ($3m+ for 3 weeks of work and 10% of the film’s gross). He then showed up late, asked for rewrites, declined to read Conrad’s book and was so overweight that the costumes wouldn’t fit (to obscure his heft, Copolla filmed Brando in the shadows and had him wear oversized dark clothing).

The budget ballooned to over $30m.

To maintain creative control and maintain all the film rights, Coppola mortgaged his home and borrowed money against his ownership in The Godfather. 

After the success of “Star Wars” (1977), Coppola even asked his friend and business partner George Lucas — who was originally tapped to direct Apocalypse — for some funds.

I repeat: Coppola went ALL THE WAY IN and had SKIN IN THE GAME.

His wife Eleanor took recorded video of all the insanity and the footage was turned into a 1991 documentary (“Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse”).

The total cost for the film — including marketing spend — reached $45m.

Against all odds, Coppola finished the project and the film was released in August 1979. It grossed $105m and Coppola would make a fortune on future DVD, Home Video and other ancillary revenue streams (below is a trailer for a re-mastered cut from 2019).

During the Cannes Festival in May 1979, Coppola famously said of the film: “The way we made it was very much like the way the Americans were in Vietnam. We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little, we went insane.”
Coppola also said at Cannes that “My movie is not *about* Vietnam. My movie *is* Vietnam”.

It’s def one of the best films ever but that is … a stretch of a comparison.

Anyways, the making of The Godfather was also insane and I wrote about that here: readtrung.com/p/the-godfathe…
If you want more on Apocalypse Now, I went on Jim O'Shaughnessy’s “Infinite Loops” podcast with Rob Henderson to talk about the making and psychology of the film. open.spotify.com/episode/38OYIn…
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Mar 10
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And spend only 30 secs on the menu (pushing them from defaults to a new items is hard)

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