Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Delayed Reviews: Born to Fight (2004)

It has taken me forever to get to this underrated kick-fest.  Today's film is Born to Fight, a Thai Film that was kind of lost in the shuffle.  For those of you who missed it, here is a quick run-down of the Thai Boom in America that started about ten years ago.  Ong-Bak was a surprise hit in the United States- thanks to some great viral marketing- and many similar Films.  Some of them, like Dynamite Warrior (part of my collection), got just a video release, while others got released in a wider, theatrical market.  Amidst those films was Born to Fight, which is an in-name only Remake of a 1989 film by the same Writer/Director.  It faded a bit shortly thereafter after The Protector (which is in my collection) and has only since come back with The Raid films (the first of which is in my collection too).  Fight features many of the same people behind Dynamite, including its lead.  The film tells the possibly-real tale of a small Village that fought back against outsiders who came in to use them as political pawns.  It is mostly a set-up for big, dynamic action scenes- for better or for worse.  I rented this film long ago and actually bought the 2-Disc DVD from an unlikely source- a Thrift Store.  You may laugh, but I also got my DVD of G.I. Joe: The Movie, Daredevil (the Director's Cut) and my Blu-Ray of V.I. Warschawski from one as well.  After all of this time, does the Film still hold up?  To find out, read on...
In the opening, two Cops try to do an undercover job, but the Boss figures out who they are.  This sets up much shooting and action.
If you thought that The Matrix: Reloaded (and Dhoom) had a monopoly on truck-based fight scenes, you were wrong.  These Stunts are rough and were hopefully worth the pain to the Stuntmen.
Our hero catches the villain, but his Mentor dies in an explosion.  Being a Mentor in these Films is the just below Being The Lead's Brother, Being Chuck Norris' Girlfriend and Being One Day Away From Retirement on the Asking For Death Scale in Cinema.

Well, that and being the black guy.  Since there is none of them in this film, the Mentor bites the dust.
Our distraught hero goes with his Sister on a goodwill mission to give sports equipment to a rural village.  It is here that we get some subtle foreshadowing like showing the skills of our athletes and letting us see their super-hard soccer balls.
A group of militants show up out of nowhere and kill many of the people.  They take the village hostage and make demands: the release of the previously-captured villain.

 If you ever wanted to see Die Hard 2 in a Thailand Village instead of in an Airport, you are...really specific in your goals.  Kudos?
Our main hero- as a Cop- fights back first and drives the Village to work together.  It is certainly an easier sell to the people who are NOT in the front lines.

Fight!  Fight!  Fight!
Almost everyone in Town (save for the Extras) gets a chance to shine.  One lady shows off her 'Gymkata,' while this young girl actually kicks some notable ass!
The whole thing with their wicker-like soccer balls comes into play when they are used as weapons.  Seriously- a fight scene built around soccer balls.

Who says that having one leg precludes you from action?  Not Zach Gowen, that's for sure.
I won't SPOIL all of the crazy stunts and crashes, but I will tell you that the villains are taken care of quite definitively.  The End.
There's not a lot of substance here, but it is fun.  The film certainly doesn't aim to be a grand, epic movie.  The goal: set up action scenes and deliver.  In that regard, it certainly works!  People get kicked, people get tossed off of moving trucks and one guy gets exploded (see above)!  As the Credits show, most of what you see on film is what actually happened.  You see them practice the big falls and crashes, but there is no CG here.  The action is great and the tone is worth mentioning.  In our films, we usually get a nice, happy wrap-up.  In films like this (and The Raid), there are real, emotional consequences and nothing feels like it is just 'wrapped up neatly.'  It is certainly a bit jarring if you are new to these kinds of films.  Now, in all fairness, the film itself is nothing special.  The villains have little motivation and this is all just a set-up for the action.  It is an amazing coincidence that the guy who arrested the villain just happens to be in the Village taken hostage as a set-up for his release!  Holy random chance, Batman!  If you go into the film expecting fun and over-the-top action, you will not be disappointed.  If you go into the film expecting a really-serious plot and characterization, you will be.  I will leave you with this bit that has no context that could truly explain it...
Next up, let's get back into *new* territory with...a Remake.  Okay, the Film is new, even if the source material is from 1978.  Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. Oh, wow, I've seen this one! I forgot all about it until now, but yeah...very insane fights, especially in the village with basically everyone getting to show off. O_O