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Friday, April 22, 2011

MUAY THAI GIANT -- DVD review by porfle


An odd buffet of kid-friendly comedy, violent crime, and bone-crushing fight action, MUAY THAI GIANT (aka "Somtum", 2008) goes down pretty easy. 

Seven-foot-tall former wrestler Nathan Jones (THE CONDEMNED, THE PROTECTOR) plays Barney Emerald, an Australian tourist stranded in Thailand without money or passport after being mugged.  When Dokya (Sasisa Jindamanee, BORN TO FIGHT) and her adopted sister Katen (Nawarat Techarathanaprasert) are menaced by thugs in an alley, they run to Barney for help, but he turns out to be as meek as a kitten despite his size.

The girls take Barney to their mother's humble cafe' where he is urged to try some of her somtum.  The spicy dish drives him wild and he wrecks the place in a fit of mindless rage.  Vowing to pay for the damages, Barney enters a local fight competition but is a washout.  Kickboxer Dokya is also thwarted when her larger male opponent cheats.  During the fight, pickpocket Katen steals a key from some jewel thieves and our heroes get caught up in a major heist operation with some ruthless characters.  Will Barney conquer his fears and come through for the girls?

As the gentle giant Barney, Nathan Jones is a likable lug who takes to this sort of light comedy pretty well--his early scene with a tiny, curious girl in a police station waiting room is charming--and is convincing enough as a lily-livered lummox.  He seems to enjoy playing the pratfalling oaf who shrinks from violence until his character gets a mouthful of somtum and goes Popeye on the bad guys.  One of the film's funniest moments is a fantasy segment in which he imagines himself earning extra money as a male stripper.



Jones also has great chemistry with the two young female leads, who are exceptional actresses both in the lighter moments and the more dramatic ones.  Nawarat Techarathanaprasert handles the latter with the most feeling, while junior national Muay Thai kickboxing champion Sasisa Jindamanee throws herself into the frenetic fight scenes like an old pro.

Thai action legend Panna Rittikrai, the film's fight coordinator, comes through with a series of clashes that combine slapstick with his trademark hard-hitting style.  Food is a major theme with one fight taking place in a kitchen and involving various cooking utensils as well as some blinding lime juice, with guest star Dan Chupong (ONG BAK series) managing to dice a few vegetables while mopping the floor with various opponents.  Later, Dokya is accosted again by neighborhood thugs in a sidewalk marketplace and gets some help from Kessarin Ektawatkul (CHAI LAI ANGELS, FINAL TARGET) as a papaya vendor who uses her wares as high-speed projectiles. 

Everything leads up to the climactic free-for-all between the good guys and the diamond thieves in a wild mish-mash of Muay Thai, wrestling, and the kind of go-for-broke stunts common to many Thai action films (along with a few instances of realistic gangster-style violence that seem somewhat out of place).  Here we get to see the kind of dazzling stunts and choreography that we're used to seeing from Panna Rittikrai, as the actors and stunt players perform with fearless abandon.
 


Obvious wirework is kept to a minumum and the main emphasis is on sheer physical mayhem and destruction, with Sasisa Jindamanee getting right into the middle of things along with the big boys.  Jones finally gets to show his stuff when a fresh dose of spicy somtum turns him into a rampaging human rhinoceros who takes on a private jet full of escaping bad guys head-on.

The DVD from Magnolia's Magnet label is in 1.78:1 widescreen with English and Thai Dolby 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras consist of "making of" and "behind the scenes" featurettes, the international trailer, and trailers from other Magnet releases.

A lightweight comedy that never takes itself too seriously, MUAY THAI GIANT also has its heartfelt moments as well thanks to some appealing performers playing likable characters.  Best of all, it delivers a full order of the kind of action that should leave wrestling and kickboxing fans well satisfied.


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1 comment:

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