Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[DVD] Dynamite Warrior (Khon Fai Bin) (2006)

Knees to Chest

Dan Chupong probably got the role of his career so far when he got cast as the mysterious masked Crow Ghost in Ong Bak 2, and kicked Tony Jaa's rear in the film. It's a pity that he still doesn't get much recognition on his own accord given what's essentially his marquee films such as Born to Fight (which I had watched some time back on the big screen, and enjoyed), and this one titled Dynamite Warrior.

Which is one heck of a ride as well, as far as an action movie is concerned. Chupong plays the titular character, aptly named because of his arsenal containing rockets of all shapes and sizes, which can be used as an offensive weapon such as projectiles with an explosive tip, or defensively to provide a quick boost in a modified escape vehicle for the late 19th century. Alternatively, some are large enough for him to ride on as well. Yes, you read me right, Chupong's Jone Bang Fai is the quintessential explosives man, complete with Muay Thai elbow and knee moves to mop up and cripple opponents lucky enough to survive his shock-and-awe missile barrage.

But of course you know the story can't be all too serious, since it's a fusion of science and mythical elements, with evil wizards and spells being part of the equation on the villainous end, which our hero has to do combat with. In his quest to search for the killer of his parents, Jone Bang Fai conducts raids on buffalo traders, and soon come up against Lord Waeng (Leo Putt), an evil aristocrat with a cleft lip, whose invention the Tractor gets no sales because the Thai farmers are still used to their buffaloes. So Waeng hatches a plan to eliminate the traditional competition, and this sets him on a collision course with Jone.

Part of the fun here is the sword and sorcery type of storyline and characters, especially with Nai Hoi Sing (Samart Thipthamai) who proves to be quite the combatant since he's magical tattoo gives him superpowers and the ability to discharge blows from a distance, making him quite untouchable. He also has the ability to ignite his followers Bak Paen (Wichai Promchan) and Bak Kaan (Ampol Rattanawong) into using fighting monkey and tiger moves, which adds to the fun factor somewhat, as they go up against the Black Wizard (Panna Rittikrai) who has a secret weapon through the use of a virgin's menstrual blood (Yes, you read this right too!), and backed by Lord Waeng and his tough guy henchman with a voracious appetite, played by Somdej Keawlue.

The story contains its usual twists and turns and provides for some nice, though expected, development of the plot, and the only time when it sagged, was when it decided to focus on the romantic aspects between Jone and the Black Wizard's daughter Sao (Kanyapak Suworakood), in a shy guy meets outcast girl routine, which took quite a while because well, we the audience accompanies Jone in waiting for her next menstrual cycle. But everything was worth the wait as it was a precursor to one of the largest fight sequences to take place in a cop station, before the finale all out assault on the baddies lair.

Chupong dishes out plenty of of punishment as Jone Bang Fai, and if you're a fan of Tony Jaa, I don't see why you won't take to Dan Chupong and his brand of martial arts. The supporting cast, especially that of Samart Thipthamai also makes many of the fight scenes in the film worthwhile, and sequence after sequence just builds on what the previous had accomplished, making it a more than satisfying finale battle between good and evil, with plenty of bone crunching action to satisfy action fans anywhere. It's not a perfect film, but it contains many elements that make this a fun movie to sit through being entertaining at its core. Dan Chupong really should have made a bigger impact, and that remains to be seen with bated breath.

Code 1 DVD by Peace Arch Home Entertainment comes presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer, with audio available in Dubbed English Dolby Digital 2.0 or 5.1, and in its original Thai language track in Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1 as well. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish, with a 16 chapter scene selection, and the disc autoplays with trailers for The Host, Severance and The Signal, with an advertisement for HD Net.

Special Features are all subtitled, and presented in full screen format. Strangely though, all of them, save for the Original Theatrical Trailer (2:11, without subs) featuring primarily the best fighting scenes from the movie, end rather abruptly. As always, most of the features contain spoilers, so watch the movie proper first.

The Making of Dynamite Warrior (13:59) doesn't have much behind the scenes look, but focused on getting interviews with the main cast and the director in talking heads style, with clips from the film itself. Discussion range from their individual characters, to the lifestyle of North Eastern Thais. Behind-the-Scenes Stunts (1:54) and On-set Footage (2:31) are all rather short to be of much value, and the Special Effects Makeup (2:06) gives a quick look at how the Black Wizard got made up. A real pity that there isn't much substantial making-of material put together for this DVD release.

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