Saturday, August 19, 2006

[Sawadee Film Fest] Born to Fight (Kerd Ma Lui)

Trademarked Reverse Scissor Kick!

This Thai movie is directed by Panna Rittikrai, the man behind the stunts for Tony Jaa vehicles like Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong, and is a remake of his own 1978 first movie of the same title. It's a pure unadulterated action movie, without too deep of a storyline, except to set up some excuses to have fights, explosions and gun play.

Looking very much like 80s action movies from Hong Kong, this film has an opening action sequence that took a leaf from action superstar Jackie Chan's Police Story's car rolling down the hill of slums stunt. Only that it's done on a way larger scale here. Daew (Dan Chupong), is a Bangkok cop who lost his sarge on that particular mission, and feels guilty for not being able to do more.

Kessarin Ektawatkul was also in the movie - she's one of the Chai Lai angels Poy-sian (the one doing the dance inside that transparent ball). Here she plays Daew's sister Nui, a skilled Tae-Kwon-Do exponent, and both brother and sister joined the sport's school excursion to a Thai village to bring gifts to the villagers, as part of their goodwill visit. However, you need the villains to make their grand entrance, and here they come in with guns ablazing in their massacre of the village.

The survivors are rounded up, and an ultimatum given to the Thai government to release chief villain General Yang, or watch the remaining villagers get killed and televised (nowadays terrorists are media savvy). So it's vaguely Die Harder familiar grounds, as it's up to one man - Daew, to save the day, in a villain for hostages exchange, not if he could help stop it.

Or so I thought. One man is not enough to battle an army, so the Thai national anthem made the survivors rise up to their oppressors. Kinda Seven-Samurai/Magnificent Seven-ish, the sports schools representatives like a sepak takraw player, a rugby player, several gymnasts etc make use of their sporting skills in various action set pieces. While it is fun to watch the first time, sometimes it did get repetitive, or even unbelievable as footballs, rattan balls, poles and even a kettle of boiling water get put to good use.

While there are the usual shoot-and-miss gunplay with guns ranging from machine guns to the occasional bazooka, the highlight of this movie are the hard tackling, full body contact fighting stunts that never cease to amaze. They look really dangerous, and you wonder if there were actually any broken bones, teeth, burns and other serious internal injuries sustained by the actors and the stunt crew. Done to perfection too are the various slow motion techniques and the multiple camera shots to accentuate the action.

Born to Fight also boasts some nifty special effects like a nuke explosion in the same vein as Terminator 2, but what's probably the hallmark here is the Daew's reverse scissor kick combo that shadows the weak story. Bottom line is, in such an action movie, the plot's secondary to the stunts anyway. Enjoy!

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