Tag Archives: Chocolate

Raging Phoenix: Passion in Drunkeness

In one of the more visually stunning and passion filled Muay Thai martial arts films I’ve seen, Yanin Vismistananda performs far better than I could have expected. As the leading heroine in Raging Phoenix (AKA, Jeeja Due Suai Du), Yanin shows more heart and courage (with some more brutal and flashy moves) than she did in Chocolate (although I love that movie). Panna Rittikrai does it again with some amazing stunt coordination in this one.

Deu (Yanin: also spelled Dew for some reason…) is a down and out on her luck drummer in a punk band. She has scummy boyfriends and is constantly being fooled. (She’ll say this at length in the movie.) With trust issues and an appetite for the drink, Deu gets herself in some trouble. After being chased down in a parking structure, Deu

She is both pretty and deadly.

gets away by chance with the help of a devilishly good looking and bearded Thai man (He’s also in Bangkok Knockout. I didn’t know he was one of Panna’s main boys, but Pod is in this one too… Review coming much later). He turns out to be called Sanim (Kazu Patrick Tang) and he’s good at taking down thugs with bladed kangaroo legs.

Look at that handsome man. Who wouldn’t fall for that?

With bringing her back to their hideout, Sanim encounters some unexpected collateral. Deu meets Pig Shit (Nui Saendaeng) and Dog Shit (Sompong Lertwimonkaisom), two fellow fighters with an agenda. What Deu becomes so fascinated with is a drunken style of fighting (made up for the film) known as Meyraiyuth. With montage scenes and lots of drinking, Deu and the gang take on the Jaguar Gang, a bunch of thugs looking to kidnap women just like Deu for nefarious purposes.

What I liked most about this movie was the interesting new style of fighting. Called Meyraiyuth, this badass feet of fury technique is actually an infusion. Mix classically ballin’ brutal Muay Thai finishing moves with a Capoeira dancing style that allows you to outwit your enemy and you can easily evade attacks with a lot of trauma. There are some great fight locations and a lot of newly

Pretty dope, right?

invented kicks and finishing moves that always surprise me in these Muay Thai action films. When you see one of these you expect the same old stuff, but Panna Rittikrai always has something new up his sleeve.

This was news to me too.

The acting was fine in this one, with the exception of a few actors. But that’s not what these movies are about, right? It’s about the artful technique of martial arts. It’s got the word “arts” right in there. Who cares about the plot and talking if the fans aren’t there for that? There were some cheesy CG effects and one or two strange other things, but the movie held its own as a story of love, loss, and the channeling of pain into what you do with your life. Yanin “Jeeja” sold it and it all worked out in the end.

And the end is what I wanna talk about. I’m used to these Muay Thai films with the main hero busting down hundreds of guys with lethal finishing moves, one right after the other. But this movie focused on a handful of major fighters taking on their counterparts in some long, well developed fight scenes. And that’s what makes the end so brutal. In her pain and despair, Yanin channels death into her palms and  DESTROYS the main villain. She absolutely does some of the best, most lethal moves I’ve ever seen that are actually doable in the realm of physics. I was welling up with tears with the impassioned music and the fists ripping across the screen. That doesn’t happen often, but I know when I’ve found a new favorite fight scene. So, with that in mind, I give Raging Phoenix a lethal 7.6 out of 10.

That’s a beauty. Right to your face.

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Iron Monkey: Martial Arts in Flight

I have to say at first I was a bit skeptical about this movie. From the get go, the Iron Monkey/Robin Hood hero is flying through the air pulling off some ridiculous kicks and spin moves. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but in more of a comical way. And then I let all those inhibitions go and enjoyed the movie for its technique and visual thrill. By the end, I was pumped up, and inspired to go downstairs and try out some moves on my little sister. But it was 2 in the morning, and I was to lazy to beat up on a sleeping person.

Iron Monkey is the epic tale of a man with a hidden, superhero-like identity. Yang Tianchun (Yu Rongguang) is a medical doctor. He treats the poor for no fee and makes the rich pay what they feel is necessary to heal their ailments. Nights, Yang

Donnie Yen, the master.

moonlights as The Iron Monkey. He sneaks into the evil Governor Cheng’s (Jean Wang) chambers and steals from him. He defeats a dozen guards and four Shaolin monks. It is apparent that no one can stand up to the power of The Iron Monkey.

Wrought with despair at having any of his massive plunder taken, Governer Cheng orders the head of his guard, Fox (Yuen Shun-yi) to search and find anyone who could be the Iron Monkey. When a foreign physician/rapist martial artist rolls into town, Wong Kei-ying (Donnie Yen) and his son/disciple Wong Fei-hung (Angie Tsang) are arrested. Noticing Kei-ying’s power, the Governor enlists him to find the Iron Monkey, or he will leave his son in the dungeons forever. It is up to Donnie Yen in his fight for his son and the well being of a town who benefits from the one man he is trying to capture. Let the chase begin.

Angie Tsang, what amazing things she did with that stick.

After getting over the wire propelled stunts and kicks, I came to really enjoy the characters and the setting for this film. A remake from back in the 1970’s, this movie went farther and more elaborate than I’m sure the other film did. Based on a myth of the Wong father and son’s interaction with an “Iron Monkey” like character, a real mystery is placed around a Batman like character.

All of the fight scenes are dope. Every one is unique and takes place in a different location that utilizes the surroundings to pull off a spectacularly choreographed fight scene. And there are 4 martial artists whose skills are showcased. It’s not all about the Monkey. I

An evil power looms…

found that to be a relief from films that focus on the protagonist and no one else. The Iron Monkey actually had less fight scenes than anyone else!

And here’s another thing that blew my mind. Donnie Yen’s son in the film is actually played by a girl! Angie Tsang is on Hong Kong’s national Wushu martial arts team. She won silver in the Asian Games and Gold in the Wushu Championships. And the whole time I thought she was some malnourished little boy. I’m always thrilled to see a young woman destroying big burly guys on camera with skills she actually can do and will do in order to defend herself and utlimately kick you ass (i.e. Chocolate). A big bravo and props sent Angie’s way.

What a great last fight scene. Get some of that.

With an almost over the top plot with lots of great comic relief and fight scenes, this movie is something I would recommend to a lot of first time martial arts movie watchers. It has the plot in order to draw you in and then blows you back with the martial arts action. Donnie Yen is a martial arts destroyer as usual, and I plan to do a lot more reviews of his movies in the future (most likely his Ip Man films). This movie inspires you to fight for the weak and poor, and rightly so. It is the true way of a master. 8.2 out of 10. 

 


Chocolate: Not Your Typical Muay Thai Film

In my searchings through the Martial Arts section at F.Y.E, I came across a Thailand Martial Arts films I had not heard of before. It featured, on the cover, a young girl, poised with swords in hand, the most intense look on her face as if to say, “Yeah, I’ll rough you up a bit, Van Damme style.” This immediately piqued my interest.  So I got it, took it home, and watched it with my best bud, E.

Let me just say, this is a major statement in the Martial Arts entertainment/otherwise industry. Not only does a girl do Tony Jaa like moves in this film, but she beats up guys 3-4 times her size. With a ridiculously good idea at its base, this solid films sets you up for an action packed Muay Thai styled film that didn’t disappoint, and never left an opportunity for a great new location for an action sequence.

So Zen (Yanin Vismistananda) is the subsequent child of a West Side Story love

Look at those moves. Wow, Yanin.

affair. One parent Thai and one Japanese, this love child of two warring factions is born autistic. Not only is she born autistic, but her concentration allows her to catch things thrown at her from all angles and allows her to pick up Muay Thai fighting techniques from the dojo next door and from T.V. (some great moves from Tony Jaa’s films, obviously a planted element from same director, Panna Rittikrai)

Literally. Destruction.

When things start to heat up with old wounds opening, Zen must protect her mother Zin (Ammara Siripong). The cancer eating away at her is expensive to treat, and Zen and Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) must team up to add an element of suspense and comedy to this film about how tweens can do anything. Collecting old debts and pissing off No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) and getting her father Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe) involved, who knows what lengths an autistic girl will do to protect her family of attrition.

There are some really great elements in this movie that shine through in all of

I'm just gonna keep showing you these.

Prancha Pinkaew/ Panna Rittikrai’s work. First of all, fight locations. This movie has fight scenes in a ice factory, warehouse, slaughterhouse, and tea house, all in one. Using the layout of the locations in combination with Yanin and the stunt actor’s skills makes for a deadly combo that is played out poetically on film. Jumping over boxes, avoiding ice hooks and blocks, what could be better than imagining this all happening in an actual real life situation? This girl knows her stuff, and it shows hard.

How is this not a 12 year old girl?

And that’s another thing that impressed me so much. Yanin Vismistanada, a 24 year old Thai girl, master of Taekwondo with a 3rd degree Dan blackbelt, looks like a 12 year old. Looks can be deceiving. He moves are fluent, her Tony Jaa imitation is flawless, she’s got the works. Discovered on the Born to Fight set in 2003 by Panna Rittikrai himself, this girl is destined to eventually equal/surpass Jaa himself (or at least Dan Chupong).

Simply the best.

With some fantastic English spoken by both Thai and Japanese men (still needed subtitles though) and quite a few transvestites, speaking to Thailand’s rich heritage, this movie has a combination unlike anything I’ve ever seen. An inspirational movie speaking to how children can do whatever they wanna do, this movie is a definite need in anyone’s growing Martial Arts collection. I give this movie, in comparison to all other Panna Rittikrai/Muay Thai movies I’ve seen, a definite 9.5 out of 10.