Sunday, April 25, 2010

Raging Phoenix (2009)

I'm very happy that Prachya Pinkaew and Panna Rittikrai tries to do something else than imitating Tony Jaa in movie after movie. They are wise enough to realize that there's only one Jaa and leaves the imitators to other companies. In the meanwhile they've been nurturing other talents, for example JeeJa Yanin. She had her big breakthrough with Chocolate, and in Raging Phoenix she's a full-fledged martial arts star in her own right.

JeeJa plays Deu, a very unhappy girl who's being dumped both by her boyfriend and the band she's playing with at the same night. Drunken and sad she's soon followed by some kidnappers (one of them is an evil transvestite - as usual in Thai cinema), but is saved in the last second by a strange gang of drunken fighters. All of them has suffered the faith of getting someone close being kidnapped by the same people, and now they spend their days drinking and fighting their way through all suspects. Deu is soon invited to be one of them, but her one-man-approach to finding the bad guys is not appreciated by the others. They're a team, and nothing else...

Raging Phoenix wasn't a big hit in Thai cinemas, which is a pity, because this is a great movie with a very original style. I guess the lack of success could be because of the depressing subject, women being kidnapped and the only thing that helps when fighting the baddies is being extremely drunk. The atmosphere is sad and downbeat too, which makes it cool because the colors and visual style of the movie is something completely different. The fighting is amazing, and except one fight (which feels like to much special effects), everything is perfect. It's like watching jelly fighting! Like animated monkeys or something. It's a mix between Drunken Monkey and drunken Muay Thai, Capoeira and Breakdance! It has to be seen!

Not that this is a perfect movie. It has non-stop action, and much of is it's great, but the last half gets more absurd - and it's nothing you can't small beforehand (pun intended) - and it's hard to take seriously because the subjects gets very strange and it's not explained. Not that I need explanations to everything, but here it would have been nice with some more details. It has a kinda open ending too, so if it had been a success I guess we would had gotten some answers in the sequel.

I still think it's a great movie and if you like really good (and a bit arty) Thai-action, this is the movie for you.

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