Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jao Insee (1968)

I'm sure this movie was a big hit in 1968. Jao Insee, the fourth sequel in Mitr Chaibancha's series about the masked crime-fighter Red Eagle. He died shooting the next part, but I wonder if this isn't the best so far in the franchise. As usual I've seen it without subtitles, but the story is simple enough. Someone is killing important people in Thailand, everyone with a knife in their chest or back - adorned by a little white skull on the handle. Rom Ritthikrai (Mitr Chaibancha) and his assistant Oy (the lovely Pissamai Wilaisuk) witnesses one of the killings in a nightclub and he decides to help the police. He goes undercover as a criminal and gets a job, working for a leading gangster. Somehow the killings lead to him - but Red Eagle soon finds out that someone else is after him - not just the mysterius leader of the crime organization, but also a man with a strange rubber mask that seem to know who Red Eagle actually are...

Okey, I'll confess there's a lot I don't understand - but the even if the movie is over two hours long, it keeps up the pace and delivers a lot of nice fistfights, shoot-outs, cool and beautiful people, some silly comedy and a little bit more action. The action is quite well executed too, and Chaibancha handles the fighting and guns (huge bodycount by the way!) like he was born with a action hero! But after over 250 movies at this part of his career behind him, I guess he knew how to do it like a pro! With the fistfights and the secret lair underground, it's clearly inspired by James Bond - but Chaibancha has a lot of charm and his character - alcoholic by day and crimefighter by night - works excellent. You could say that he plays three different roles in this movie: first himself, the drunk Rom Rittihkrai, then the tough and beefed criminal with a three day stubble and finally the very violent and brave Red Eagle.

When watching a movie like this you might notice that the dubbing, music and sound effects are a bit generic. The voice actors like to overdo their manly deep voices when it comes to the heroes, and whine like rats when the henchmen talks. The music is very anonymous, and all this is because it was dubbed and sound mixed many years later. Either the sound was lost over the years, or that it just didn't have any sound when it was released. It was instead live actors doing the voices in the theater! So what you hear and see is what you get. The prints are often very deteriorated, and a lot of frames are missing - which can be a bit comical sometimes.

But if those things don't disturb you, I'll recommend you give Mitr Chaibancha and the Red Eagles-series a chance. Because it's great action-packed fun!


CiNEZiLLA said...

That looks like a really cool movie. Must check out some of these wild Thai movies at some point in time.


Alex B. said...

Yes, this looks like something off the beaten track, and I love rotten prints with lots of scratches and frame dropouts, so am sure to enjoy this!

Ninja Dixon said...

And seriously, this is a quite good little "b-movie" too :) Much better than the Insee Tong, that was the next in the series. This feels like it has much more money too, but on the other side, Insee Tong was also the first film (or one of the first) that Chaibancha produced himself, so he probably had lesser money to work with and it shows.

My theory is that he wanted to try out directing and producing instead of acting, because he was such an absurdly productive actor. 277 movies in 12-13 years, often in the lead! Jao Insee is a good example where you understand people loved him so much. Talented actor, dashing, handsome, tough, charming and funny - he had a little bit of everything :)

Alex B. said...

OMG - 277 movies in 12-12 years!!
What a L E G E N D

Jack J said...

Fred did a film about him (in Swedish). If you haven't watched it you can find it on some guy's blog here: