Friday, February 06, 2009


Progeny of a star-crossed match between a handsome and taciturn Yakuza gangster and the ex-girlfriend of the head honcho of a Thai triad, Prachya Pinkaew's protagonist 'Zen' is a troubled autistic girl who learns her kicks from watching martial arts students practicing next door...and from old Bruce Lee movies.

She gets her first hands-on encounters with assorted organised low-lifes when her mother falls ill and the family needs to secure funds from small-time racket runners more used to collecting monies than re-distributing them.

If not themselves written by an autistic savant, the subtitles on the version we watched looked to have been supplied by, which in many ways added to the entertainment value.

"I also money," Zen demands of each boss before downsizing his private army. "I immediately put the money to you," one eventually responds after a right old pounding. When her mother asks her where she got the dosh, Zen replies "We billing."

Close to the end there's an extended one-against-many confrontation reflecting back the influence of Tarantino's Kill Bill, which commences with the following desafío:

"You this bastard..."
"We the grudge between two people."

Whenever a fight starts in a big room whose walls are made from flimsy oriental screens, you just know that there will be a yet more final set-to outside once someone has made a pioneering exit through them...headfirst. And so we are treated to what can only be described as a fracas on a facade, with participants leaping from edges, rebounding off surfaces and kicking out from the edges of hanging neon signs — a scenario unlike anything I've come across before in the genre.

It's ultimately terminal for the Triad boss and his upper-echelon goons and judging by the footage shown over the end credits, very nearly so for the actors and stunt men playing them as well. (Several left the set in neck-braces and the very last shot is of smiling crew-members crowded around fairly immobile looking characters in hospital beds.)

The biggest laugh in the movie came when Zen has to take on the villains' secret weapon, a geeky-looking myopic teenager in a blue adidas track-suit whose martial arts style is an extension of his physical tics. That, impeccable of the political not is.

Then there's the scene where a hidden assasin offs four packing trannies led by one who looks remarkably like Victoria Beckham, before reporting to his superior that "I was a few shemale kill the".

The director of Ong Bak has served up another cult classic.

Grade: A-

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