displaced ronin, Ayothaya-era Thailand was not such a bad place to relocate. There was a considerable Japanese colony,
steady work as mercenaries, and good diplomatic ties with their homeland. Unfortunately, a secret cabal is out to
overturn the existing order, but they will have to contend with the legendary
hero Yamada Nagamasa in Nopporn Watin’s Muay Thai Warrior (a.k.a.
Yamada: the Samurai of Ayothaya, trailer
releases today on DVD and Bluray from Well Go USA.
to the Japanese Volunteer Army, Yamada and his comrades are tasked with
apprehending roving gangs of Hongsawadee raiders, Ayothaya’s sworn enemies defeated
but not vanquished by King Naresuan in the recent Elephant War. However, when Yamada and his men get their
hands on a few (dead of course) they are disturbed to find they are
Japanese. This is dangerous information
that nearly costs Yamada his life.
Fortunately, Kham and his fellow imperial bodyguards interrupt the
ambush just in the nick of time.
beaten, Yamada is taken to Kham’s village to recuperate. It is the first time Yamada finds himself at
peace, aside for the occasional assassin sent to rub him out. Kham’s sister Champa certainly makes an
impression on him, but he also forges a deep friendship with the fierce Muay
Thai fighter. With the help of the Buddhist
monk and trusted advisor royal advisor Phra Khru, Yamada learns Muay Thai in
hopes of joining the King’s elite bodyguards.
He also has some unfinished business with his renegade countrymen.
an exercise in comparing and contrasting various forms of martial arts, Muay
Thai definitely has the advantage in MTW. Whereas it utilizes knees and elbows to
devastating effect, the styles of their rivals largely seem to involve impaling
one’s self on your opponent’s sword. At
least that is how it looks during the massive Hongsawadee beatdown. It is certainly cinematic though, as are the
torch-lit showdowns between Yamada and the evil Japanese mastermind.
Ozeki an engaging action figure, even if he does not quite have the skills of
the real life mustachioed Muay Thai boxers cast around him. Likewise, Kanokkorn Jaicheun is a charismatic
presence as Yamada’s chaste love interest.
Most notably for Thai film patrons, Sorapong Chatree brings stately
gravitas as Phra Khru, more or less reprising his role in HSH Prince
Chatrichalerm Yukol’s epic Kingdom of War.
Lushly lensed by cinematographer Chuchart
Nantittanyathada, MTW features
stunning locales and rich period settings.
Oddly enough, it is the fight choreography that is rather
inconsistent. Still, it is a rather
stirring depiction of honor and loyalty by choice rather than accident of birth. Conceived to mark 124 years of Thai-Japanese
diplomatic relations (and just how did you observe the anniversary?), Muay Thai Warrior will certainly
entertain fans of historicals loaded with action and intrigue. It is now available for home viewing from
Well Go USA.
Labels: DVD, Martial arts cinema, Muay Thai Boxing, Thai Film