Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bangkok Knockout (2010)

Do you remember kung fu-movies from the eighties? They always ended with a spectacular fight inside a warehouse or a factory. Panna Rittikrai’s latest movie is more or less that for ninety minutes. I’ve been a long time fan of Rittikrai, both his über-low budget VCD-masterpieces to his later work with the awesome Tony Jaa. During later years he’s always been in the background, doing the stunt- and fight choreography for tons of fun action movies from Thailand. With the exception of the absurdly violent Born to Fight (starring Dan Chupong) he’s stayed away from big mainstream directing. Until now. Bangkok Knockout is very similar to Born to Fight, but with lower budget and less blood – but don’t worry, it delivers!

A group of hopeful fighters, stuntmen and athletic actors gathers for an audition. It’s an American production and behind it all is a bearded, rude, cigar-smoking Farang. So all the good guys gets chosen, invited to a party… and next day they all wake up in a big industrial area (with never-finished houses, garages, warehouses etc) after been drugged! They never tried out for a movie, but for a deadly game where rich foreign fuckers bet money on their survival against a gang of ruthless killers! Let the action begin!

Like Born to Fight we first have to suffer thru around half an hour of pointless character development before the fun can begin. It’s actually quite similar to BTF, with a small gang of heroes forced to fight killers in a secluded area – but this time the movie ends with the fight on and around the truck. The cast is young and cute, but most of them seem to be skilled fighters and handles the action very well. The only stand-out performance is living legend Sorapong Chatree, who looks almost too fresh for being 60+ years old. He don’t have much to do, but is always a welcome guest in any Thai movie. Panna Rittikrai, who looks f**king brutal, acts as one of the bad guys and is fantastic. He even has a fight, even if he doesn’t move around much, mostly blocking hits and breaking one or two legs. The worst performance is from one of the western actors, he sounds Russian and he can’t act his way out of a wet paper bag.

But the action, you ask? First of all, it’s not as creative or innovative as in Chocolate or Raging Phoenix. This is more balls-to-the-walls brutal action, with quite straight-forward fights with a lot of neck-breaking stunts. It slowly gets more and more spectacular the further the movie goes and offers a lot of fights. It won’t change your world, but I guarantee you get entertained. My favourite scenes is has quite little fights. It’s with a mute, tall killer with an iron mask and a big axe, like a Jason Voorhees! He’s impossible to take down and even fights being totally on fire! Except this you’ll get action with motorcrosses, a truck, different fight-techniques, a car or two and in-between some stupid Thai comedy. The only really bad thing (and I don’t count a thin storyline bad, it’s just a frigging action movie man!) is the extremely homophobic depiction of one of the bad guys, who are so stereotypical that it leaves a damn bad taste afterwards. This is a common thing in Thai movies, but here it’s a bit too much even for me.

Bangkok Knockout (aka BKO) will turn some people away for being very thin, a bit cheap and very uneven as all of Rittikrai’s work as a director. Personally I was very entertained by it and just loved the fights and stunts. Because in the end, that’s the reason for the existence of BKO: kicking the ass of brave stuntmen, nothing else.

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