Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thai Dynamite: Chocolate

After all of the Thai films that I have covered so far, you are probably wondering what to expect from a title like Chocolate. I was too, to be honest. What you get is an action movie by the man behind Ong Bak and The Protector, which can't be a bad thing. Unlike those films, however, this movie is not a vehicle for Tony Jaa (that would be Ong Bak 2). This movie, instead, is built around a new female star, who definitely has a breakout performance. The story here is pretty unique, in both a good way and a bad way. More than anything, this will be the most polarizing aspect of the film and it is quite understandable. Rather than ruin anything, let me just jump right into my review of...
Our story begins with a tale of forbidden love. A young woman is from one crime family, while a man is from another. Don't get worried about the whole 'Romeo and Juliet' thing too much, since it is really just an undercurrent plot thread. The woman gets caught and maimed in a bad way as punishment, while the man flees. See you in the climax, man! In spite of all the turmoil, the woman gives birth to a daughter, but there are problems. For starters, the woman is trying to live a normal life, but her past won't go away. She also has money problems, due to the issues of working with her injury and trying to remain low-key. Oh and her daughter has Autism. I should probably have mentioned this first, shouldn't I? As if life could not get any more dramatic, the poor lady gets cancer too. On the plus side, she has a good career as a country singer ahead of her. There is an actual upside to all of this: her daughter has freaky, unnatural reflexes. Her fat best friend (who does not have one in a Thai film) tries to make some money off of it, but some issues come up. I know that this does not sound like your usual kung-fu film, but stay with me.
Right around the forty-five minute mark, the movie turns into what you hope it would be. The daughter discovers a book of names and figures of money next to them. The two kids figure that it is the name of people that owe her (instead of the mob) money and go to the first name on the list. He shoos them away, but our heroine is persistent. It is here that we learn our heroine's power: mimicry of any movement she sees. Unlike the Marvel Comics character The Taskmaster, she learns to use this power properly and kick some serious ass. Despite barely-weighing one-hundred pounds- if that- our heroine can knock around Thai stuntmen like there is no tomorrow. To make matters more surreal, she actually learns kung-fu from watching some footage of Tony Jaa fighting. This is actually a good inductee for Great Moments in Stock Footage, but that is for another day. We get a couple of these great scenes in pretty quick succession (with some little bits of plot thrown in). The big problem is that one thought is crossing your mind during these scenes (besides 'holy shit, that must have hurt'): why did you not have these earlier?
The whole thing comes to a head in one big, humongous action scene that takes about twenty minutes. You might recall this formula in such films as Hard-Boiled (the hospital), Dynamite Warrior (the house) and Ong-Bak (the temple). After all the robberies, the head of the crime family figure out that some shit is going down. He sends his thugs after the mother and the fat kid gets stuck in the middle. This is all part of a plan to catch some bigger fish: the dad from the beginning. See, he's not a dead-beat dad: he appears in book-ending scenes of the movie. Of course, what judge is going to buy that in a hearing. Anyhow, our heroine is given the challenge of her lifetime (mind you, this is not long): fighting another Autistic child who knows kung-fu. You sort of knew that they were going to go there, didn't you? This fight is exactly what you think it would be: stupid and awesome. The thing escalates however to include the father fighting, some sword fighting and some really long bits without cutting. Ultimately...yeah, I won't spoil it. Just see the movie already.
This movie is good, but definitely takes its time getting there. Like a lot of these Asian action films, it is built around a longer running time than our standard 90 minute fare. As such, they don't all rush to give you the good stuff like Transformers 2 (giant robot battle in the first 10 minutes). Whether you can deal with this or not is going to keep you from liking many films such as Invisible Target or the Azumi series. Once the action starts- and never stops for too long- the film does not have all that much unique to offer, save for having their lead do them. You get the knee strikes, the flips and the slow-motion. Don't get me wrong- it's awesome. I'm not blast them as a man who owns both The Protector and Dynamite Warrior. If you want to see a crazy Thai action film with quirky leads that is less sporadically-paced, check out the remake of Born to Fight. This film is certainly something, but not for everyone.
Next up, I take a shot at my least favorite action star. He has a pony-tail and one face, so you figure out. Oh yeah, this movie has vampires that are really zombies too. Stay tuned...

No comments:

Post a Comment