Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Bangkok Revenge: Satisfaction for the Stoic Orphan
a man without emotions still get his revenge?
If the crooked cops responsible for his parents’ murder keep throwing
themselves in his path, than yes, absolutely. Manit Samat is lucky to be alive. The little boy who survives a one-in-a-million
shot to the head will grow up to become a deadly martial artist, who will give
the Thai underworld all they can handle in Jean-Marc Minéo’s Bangkok Revenge (trailer here), which is now
playing in New York.
father was an honest copper who made trouble for his corrupt superiors, but not
anymore. After executing his parents,
one of the killers is sent to finish off their son. A freak defective bullet leaves the young boy
in a coma. Aware the rogue officers will
come to finish the job, Nurse Chanticha spirits him away to a martial arts
master, who cures him through Chinese medicine.
However, he cannot heal the brain damage, affecting his ability to feel
emotions. On her deathbed, his nurse
turned adoptive mother reveals his true heritage, giving him a file containing
her independent investigation. He might
not feel emotion, but Samat understands a man has to do what a man has to
this will involve a lot of fighting, which is what Revenge does best. Featuring
some of the best close quarters fighting since The Raid, Minéo mounts an instant classic beatdown in a subway car
and inventively films a Muay Thai pile-on from the inside out. Irish-Chinese stuntman-action star John Foo
is flexible, but not very expressive, so this is the perfect role for him. He has all kinds of credibility kicking and
kneeing his foes into submission, but he is bit out to sea during the film’s
rare quiet moments.
are a few nice turns in the supporting cast, starting with Kowitch Wathana as
Samat’s reluctant teacher, Adjan. Michaël
Cohen also has some nice moments as Simon, the disgraced French policeman now
eking out an existence throwing vanity kickboxing matches for tourists. He comes across a bit like a poor man’s Jean
Reno, but there are far worse things under the sun. His countryman Caroline Ducey does not fare
so well as Clara, a journalist with a distractingly thick French accent who
serves as Samat’s unlikely love interest.
Their chemistry is rather lacking.
The villains are mostly just punching bags for Samat’s hands and feet,
but at least Julaluck Ismalone has a bit of flair as Ying, the leader of the
Hyenas, a girl gang in the Kill Bill tradition. Her Euro boss though is a bit embarrassing in
her scenes of villainy.
For reasons Samat claims are too complicated to
explain, he is more comfortable conversing in English, which means Revenge is probably not eligible for
Oscar consideration as Thaiand’s best foreign language film submission. That is unlikely to become an issue for them. For martial arts fans, it delivers the goods,
but don’t go expecting an acting showcase, because it isn’t one. Recommended exclusively for those who
appreciate the sight of a roundhouse kick landing on a temple, Bangkok Revenge is now showing in New
York at the AMC Empire and in San Francisco at the AMC Metreon, courtesy of
China Lion Entertainment.
Labels: John Foo, Martial arts cinema