Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’


Boonmee is a former soldier with the Thai army who is dying of kidney failure. Rather than spending his final days in a hospital, he retires to his house in the countryside in North Thailand with his carer from Laos called Jai. His sister in law Jen and nephew Tong come over to see him. During dinner on the porch, the trio are visited by the ghost of Boonmee’s dead wife Huay and his son Boonsong who has transformed into some sort of weird ape with glowing red eyes after running from the family some years ago and having sex with a ‘ghost monkey’. Boonmee says his goodbyes to friends and makes a trip along with Jen and Tong to a cave deep in the jungle where he says he was born. There he prepares for his final journey to meet his maker…………

Winner of the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, this movie is one that divides opinion amongst people. Some say it’s a work of art and a highly original piece of work whilst others say it’s an overlong, boring, incoherent mess. I’d been wanting to see it for a while. I must warn anybody that might be tempted to see this movie that if you expect a story with a straightforward linear narrative you’re not going to get it here plus I think you really have to be in the right mood to appreciate this rather unique and bold piece of work by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This is the first movie I’ve seen by him. I’d like to think that as well as enjoying modern blockbusters I can also enjoy a more simplistic arthouse movie like this one. Even after watching this movie and you still don’t understand what the director was trying to say don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s a movie that will leave you with more questions than answers. The director even said once in a newspaper interview that you don’t need to understand everything. Well that’s a relief!!

uncle boonmee screenshot

Basically this movie is about Boonmee’s past lives and dead family members coming back to haunt him and sees the man tying loose ends up as he approaches death. Of course it’s a lot more than that. It’s a reflection on life and death with some hidden meanings. A lot of the scenes are just of people talking to each other about life and love amongst other things. I’m sure there’s something about karma in this story as well. There’s no conflict, action or drama in this movie. It even includes a rather strange scene in the middle which doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the movie. It involves an old princess who longs to be young again. Beside a waterfall she starts talking to a catfish in a pool who answers her back. She then enters the pool and proceeds to have sex with the catfish in a surreal moment! The director uses stunning imagery of the Thai countryside and jungle with the environment itself as the soundtrack to the story. Every shot is beautifully composed. The performances of the cast are very good. I liked how all the characters didn’t become scared of the ghosts that came and visited. They just took it all in their stride like it’s something that happens regularly in their lives. Perhaps it’s a Buddhist thing? I did find the strange apes with glowing red eyes that inhabit the forest to be a bit creepy.

This isn’t a movie for everyone. For anybody that wants to see something different and highly original then you’ll love this movie. It can be confusing and at times plodding but stick with it. I enjoyed the mystical side to the movie. And if you can make sense of it all I salute you!!

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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A Korean man Mun and his family consisting of wife Mi-ja, elder son Tae-yang, daughter Tae-mi and younger son Tae-Poong have settled down in Bangkok, Thailand where the father runs a Taekwondo school and the mother runs a restaurant. An expensive Thai treasure valued at $30 million dollars called the Kris Of Kings (basically an ancient long dagger) has been returned to the country and already a gang of Korean thieves take the opportunity to steal it but luckily the Mun family is nearby and manage to thwart the robbery. The gang of thieves escape and the family gets to be famous thanks to their efforts. However, the leader of the gang refuses to accept that the family have humiliated him and sends some of his thugs to the Mun restaurant but again they come away defeated. Mun decides to send his kids away to an old family friend who runs a small zoo in the countryside thnking that it’ll be safer for them there. Eventually though the gang find out where they are and kidnap Tae-Poong. The only way Mun and his family can have him back is to steal the Kris and hand it over to the gang leader. Will they be successful in stealing the Kris and rescuing their young son?

Whilst there are plenty of action movies from Korea, Korean martial arts movies are few and far between. This movie tries to readdress the balance but is it any good? Well, the answer is not really. This was the first joint movie project between South Korea and Thailand. The plot is nothing new, in fact the story is wafer-thin and just an excuse for the continuous action and whilst there are a few decent martial arts fights, it just wasn’t enough to make the movie rise above anything else than plain average. There’s even a dull side plot about Mun pushing his elder son to succeed at martial arts because he failed at the Olympics 20 years previously but all Tae-yang is interested in doing in taking part in dance auditions. It didn’t help the movie one bit that terribly cheap CGI effects was used at times such as a scene in a crocodile pit. It just looks bad. The villains aren’t even that menacing, there’s a distinct lack of any drama and the comedy I thought was lame. The highlight for me is near the end in a fight inside one of Bangkok Zoo’s enclosures where Tae-yang jumps on top of empty animal cages and has to fend off the villains all the while trying to avoid several spinning metal fans dangling from the ceiling. Quite an inventive scene and very exciting but sadly that was the only scene that really got me going. Maybe I was expecting director Prachya Pinkaew to come up with the goods seeing as he gave us the excellent Ong Bak, Chocolate and Tom Yum Goong but he doesn’t come close to emulating those movies with this one even if it does feature a dancing elephant!!

The cast I didn’t think was particularly good either apart from the 2 young Koreans who played brother and sister. Na Tae-Ju as Tae-yang is probably the best actor in the movie and I enjoyed his fighting style. He’s very nimble and acrobatic. He incorporates some dancing moves in keeping in line with his character and some taekwondo to kick some ass. Kim Gyeong-suk as Tae-mi who plays his sister fares well in her fighting scenes as well. That’s to be expected as both are major Taekwondo stars in South Korea. The rest of the Korean family is a bit bland. Thai martial arts star Jeeja Yanin is horribly underused and doesn’t get the chance to really show off her skills. After all, even though the movie is set in Thailand, it is mostly a Korean production (they funded 75% of the movie) and the filmmakers obviously didn’t want Jeeja to overshadow the main stars. Those expecting her to feature in some bone crunching action like in her 2 previous movies (Chocolate/Raging Phoenix) will definitely be disappointed. I know I was!

The Kick might have it’s moments but overall I found the whole movie very underwhelming. Instantly forgettable.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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4bia (2008)

4bia is a Thai horror anthology movie consisting of 4 short stories:

Happiness – a young woman, Pin is alone in her apartment, with a cast on her leg from an accident in a taxi. Having nothing to do, Pin communicates with the world via her mobile phone and the internet. She begins receiving text messages from an unknown man, someone who seems to be equally lonely, but friendly enough. Pin is elated at first, but then becomes alarmed when the stranger knows her every move.

Tit-For-Tat – A boy is mercillesly bullied by a group of his high school peers and eventually killed. He comes back from the grave to extract revenge on his killers.

In The Middle – Four school friends have gone on a camping trip in the wilderness. Whilst talking about horror movies in their tent at night, they discuss what would happen if one of them died. They agree that the person would come back and haunt the person in the middle of the tent. During a kayaking session, the 4 are thrown overboard. 3 manage to get back to shore and 1 goes missing. During the night, the missing boy comes back but something is very wrong.

Last Fright – Flight attendant Pim has to take care of a Princess on a specially chartered flight. The Princess is having problems in her marriage and is keen to get back home. What Pim doesn’t know is the Princess has evidence of her fooling around with her husband and she begins to physically and mentally abuse Pim. As revenge, Pim gives a meal to the Princess consisting of shrimp which she’s allergic to and later after landing, Pim finds out the Princess is dead. Now she has to escort the dead body back to her home country with the body placed in a seat on the flight covered in sheets. As the flight begins, Pim realises that perhaps the Princess may not be dead or is she starting to become crazy?

This movie is a bit of a mixed bag with only 2 of the stories good enough to be frightening whilst the other 2 stories aren’t scary at all. The first is very good with it’s claustrophobic setting and the director handles the suspense very well with plenty of tension. Whilst the eventual payoff is a cheap scare, it made me jump so I liked it. The second story I think is quite poor and the pathetic cheap special effects hampers it a lot. The script is awful. It relies on copying the Final Destination movies too much with each of the bullies being killed by an accident. It’s probably the goriest story of the four. The CG zombie characters near the end of the story is horribly executed and embarassing to see. The third is more of a horror comedy so it’s not one to be taken seriously. Again it somewhat copies another US horror in Scream as the 4 lads start talking about some movies. I half expected one of them to ask the rest ‘what’s your favourite scary movie?’ but thankfully that didn’t happen. There is some suspense but the ending was a little bit too predictable for me. And finally the fourth story was great as a psychological thriller as we see a flight attendant slowly losing her mind. A good couple of scares. Out of the four I’d say the first was the best.

You won’t find anything new in this movie at all but as a cheap fun horror it will satisfy the majority of viewers. Those that have watched a lot of Asian horrors will see the ending of each story coming a mile away. The 30 minute limit given to each story doesn’t help things and makes all of the 4 stories suffer as a result. The acting is fine, nothing special at all though I would say that Maneerat Kham-uan manages to stand out from all of the others for her fantastic performance in ‘Happiness’. There are minor references that ties all of the stories together but they had nothing to do with each other.

4bia is a decent horror anthology if you’re a fan of movies like Creepshow and Tales From The Crypt. If you’ve got time to spare and have nothing better to do, this isn’t a bad way to spend nearly 2 hours.

Sadako’s Rating: 3 stars out of 5

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As the movie begins, we see a depressed Japanese man called Kenji attempting to hang himself but being thwarted by the doorbell of his apartment going off. Kenji lives in Bangkok, Thailand and works in a library there. He doesn’t have a girlfriend and he seems to be an impeccably clean person judging by the rigid state of his apartment where all sorts of books have been stacked around in alphabetical order and the place looks spotless. A person with an OCD disorder perhaps? His brother arrives to see him because he’s in trouble which starts chain of events in Kenji’s life. Kenji murders two people in his apartment and is about to throw himself from a bridge when he sees a young Thai girl Nid in a Japanese school uniform who’s having an argument with her sister Noi. He had noticed her earlier at his workplace and was transfixed by her. When Nid is distracted by Kenji, a passing car slams into her instantly killing the young girl. This tragic incident brings Nid and Kenji together when he asks if he can crash out at her dirty apartment for a couple of days. Thus starts a peculiar romance between the two where they gradually become to depend on each other. When Nid’s gangster ex-boyfriend sticks his nose in her business once more and 3 yakuza arrive from Osaka to see Kenji, the stage is set for a collision.

What an impressive movie this was and so interesting to watch. It’s a surreal romance of sorts (not of the ordinary sort) and also a clash of two differing cultures in more ways than one. Nid being a Thai girl and such a slob, not really giving a toss about cleaning up her place in comparison to Kenji a Japanese man who’s too much of a neat freak for his own good. However the two of them together seems to work, bonded by tragedy. I guess the term ‘opposites attract’ is perfect for the situation. They find solace in each other as both are lonely. The movie is touching, entertaining, and even hilarious at times especially when the 3 yakuza characters come to Bangkok. One of them with a plaster underneath his eye goes around asking every man he comes across if he’s Kenji. The stupidity of his action usually follows with a swift slap across the head. It really is funny to see. Takashi Miike plays the head yakuza gangster by the way so that kind of explains why we see a movie poster of Ichi The Killer shown in the library where Kenji works.

The two leads are excellent. We know what Tadanobu Asano can do as he is such a remarkable actor and he excels again in this movie as Kenji. I’d never seen Sinitta Boomyasak before but she is equally as good in her role as Nid. Seeing Kenji and Nid try and communicate through broken English, a little bit of Japanese and Thai was so good as you can see the chemistry between them. Their mis-understandings of language are juxtaposed with their understandings of each other. There is nothing so clear as body language and this movie relies heavily on the physicality of the two leads. You know that both like each other but have difficulty in expressing their feelings. Their quirky relationship is a joy to watch.

Last Life In The Universe is a fantastic Thai movie which deserves to be seen more by Asian movie fans. Director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang has to be congratulated for weaving such a beautiful tale. The pacing may be too slow for some and the action (if I can call it that) is sporadic so be aware of that. Highly recommended and unmissable.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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After seeing his parents viciously murdered by a mysterious, tattoo-covered killer, a grieving young man named Zieng vows to avenge their tragic deaths. When Zieng learns that the murderous maniac who slew his parents also runs with a nefarious group of cattle rustlers, the righteous martial artist’s mission of vengeance takes on the larger task of stopping the group’s illegal activities and ensuring that each head of cattle is delivered back to its rightful owner.

I usually quite like Thai action/martial arts movies but this one just isn’t good enough and hasn’t anything really to grab and hold your attention. The plot I found fairly dull about a young man seeking revenge on a dark wizard that killed his parents. The acting is generally awful and too camp and the fighting scenes involve too much wire work and are repetitive. However, not all of the fights are poor and one or two sequences saved this movie from being a total disaster but on saying that I really did want this movie to finish as I was starting to get bored. There are far better Thai martial arts movies out there for serious fans. Only watch this is you have time to waste otherwise don’t bother.

Sadako’s Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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A group of fighters are selected, via competition, to go to Hollywood for a project… or that’s what they believe. In fact, after winning they are drugged and kidnapped, and forced to fight for their lives in a contest staged for the benefit of some extremely wealthy gamblers.

Bangkok Knockout is an average movie by most standards – i.e. the story isn’t that good and some of the acting is terrible. But when you watch this kind of movie – you don’t really care about that. It’s the action you’ve come to watch and in BKO it has some of the most extraordinary action scenes ever filmed. The cast are mostly stuntmen and fighters, and the movie showcases a range of different styles and techniques going head to head. The level of physical virtuosity on display is amazing and the scenes are brutal – fights are full contact and stunts are outrageously dangerous.

For lovers of action cinema it’s a must-see. Everybody else will probably hate it.

Sadako’s Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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The movie picks up where part 2 left off, with Jaa’s revenge seeking warrior Tien being captured by his nemesis, the evil Lord Rajasena, and subjected to all manner of tortures. Although his body and spirit are broken, he is pulled back from death by his master Bua and childhood love Pim. Recuperating in the remote Kana Khone village, Tien learns meditation and karmic acceptance, whilst deepening his martial arts skills through graceful dance. Meanwhile, the sinister Crow Ghost returns, attempting to seize control of the kingdom from Lord Rajasena for his own terrible purposes.

A major disappointment. I’ve enjoyed all of Tony Jaa’s movies until I watched this one. It is terrible. You usually expect lots of fast and furious action and some kind of coherent plot in Jaa’s movies – you get neither in this one. The final fight, which should have been epic, is really poor because it is short, it has nothing spectacular, it lacks the flamboyant style of Tony Jaa and the other guy shows absolutely nothing. You will get bored watching this movie, twiddling your thumbs until some kind of action happens – that’s how bad it is. It’s a complete waste of time and an epic failure.

Sadako’s Rating: 1.5 stars out of 5

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