Tag Archives: Panna Rittikrai

Ip Man: The True Master

Ip Man, the trainer of Bruce Lee in Wing Chun martial arts style. One of the true Grandmasters that has left a legacy all martial arts film fans must appreciate. Here comes a film from Wilson Yip, a director who has brought us Donnie Yen in the forms of Dragon Tiger Gate and Flash Point. But this film has a different pace and style. More elegant than other kung fu films, this movie flows in the same Ki as Fearless with Jet Li. I think here’s a point where I’m going to list my favorite martial artists just to get it out there. Let me know what you think of this list:

1. Tony Jaa (that’s a given, he got me into martial arts)

2. Jeeja Yanin (she’s a girl who can Muay Thai kick ass)

That is a killer stare right there.

3. Donnie Yen (straight masterful ever since I saw him in Iron Monkey)

4. Jet Li (straight destructive martial artist who has made it big in American films)

5. Dan Chupong (this dude is not as well known as Tony Jaa, but his films are just as brutal as Jaa)

I want me one of those…

6. Jackie Chan (all his movies are entertaining. Me and my roommate love Rush Hour!)

7. Iko Uwais (up and comer from Thailand. He’s in the most anticipated film for me this year, The Raid: Redemption)

8. Panna Rittikrai (this guy helped teach Tony Jaa all he knows, elderly Asian master)

9. Bruce Lee (he’s gotta be on this list somewhere! He’s ballin’ hard!)

10. Kazu Patrick Tang (this dude rocked shit in Raging Phoenix and Bangkok Knockout! Most handsome Thai man in martial arts)

The single greatest scene in the film.

And there it is. Hate me for listing Bruce Lee so low, but he’s on there. And, after watching this movie, I have gained all the more respect for Ip Man and Bruce Lee and what they do and stand for.

This film is a heartfelt one, and may bring a tear to your eye. During the Sino-Japanese War, Fo Shan is a city of prosperity until the Japanese invade and take over. Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a respected martial arts master who takes people to school on a daily basis. He and his family lose everything after the invasion and it is up to Ip Man to reclaim his honor and the honor of the Chinese people in this tale of inspiration. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next one.

Shit’s about to pop off.

There were a lot of things about this movie that surprised me. Unlike the traditional shoddy acting from the martial artists in films like this, there’s none of that. Only good acting and prideful performances. Donnie Yen always surprises me as a showman first and, well, a martial arts master also first. He can perform well and with honor and dignity (as he did in this role) and kick the shit out of people. It’s really refreshing to see an aging martial arts actor gracefully enter the older years with poise and the ability to still perform at a younger level with fire and passion.

This movie also pulls back the reins on the stylistic elements of Kung Fu films. You expect the people flying from rooftop to rooftop and kicks that send people flying, but not so much in this film. In this

Breathtaking scenery.

return to reality, Donnie Yen styles down his brutal kicks and flips to hone in on a form that is more elegant, precise, and lethal. I had a jaw dropping moment when Ip Man takes on 10 Japanese martial artists at once and probably kills about half of them with these precise little blows. You have to see it to believe it.

Get on dat destruction.

Other than that, this movie has a moving soundtrack, a strangely dubbed over audio track, and fairly accurate subtitles. It’s inspirational and humbling, informing you on one of the greatest martial artists of all time. It’s one of those films you see that makes you want to know more, and reminds you why you love to watch Kung Fu films. Ip Man all the way! 8.4 out of 10.

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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.


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.


Born to Fight: Dan Chupong, Tony Jaa’s Contemp.

So there’s this guy. Dan Chupong. And he’s pretty good at Muay-Thai boxing. He’s been in a few films and definitely poses a threat to Tony Jaa. Interesting? ou bet he is. Like his fellow Muay-Thai fighter, Dan Chupong changed his first name for a more international appeal and should be hitting it big any day now. Little known fact, he was in Ong Bak 2 and 3 as Tony Jaa’s main antagonist, the crow creature/master fighter (?). But not to be outdone by Tony, Dan Chupong has begun his own career in the action film business in Thailand. His first big hit? Born to Fight.

So, in this film, Deaw (Dan Chupong) is a policeman, investigating a illegal trading syndicate headed by General Jang Sei

This could be... painful.

Yang (Nappon Gomarachun). In the ensuing fight, Deaw’s partner, Lowfei (Santisuk Promsiri) is killed and Deaw swears revenge against the evil General, who is subsequently arrested and placed in a high security jail.

Years later, Deaw has decided to accompany his sister and her olympic team of Thailand to a small village to help relieve their poverty and poor livings. All seems well (and the creepy dad of one of the girls completely agrees) until SUDDENLY… A militant terrorist group swarms into the small village (of all the damn villages) and begins mercilessly destroying the villagers, men, women, and children alike. Once they’ve done slayed about half the villagers, they round up the rest, excluding Deaw, into the center of the village. Their reasoning? They want the general released in exchange for the villagers. Fair trade? Dan Chupong would beg to differ.

Ever think you'd see an ass-kicking this way?

And from this point on, a bunch of olympic athletes, along with Deaw, begin to work and twirk every. last. soldier. At this point it’s guns versus buns (of steel) and you know the soldiers stand no chance. If this movie speaks to any horrific disaster of the last 50 years, this movie says that ordinary people can destroy the shit out of any armed and dangerous terrorist group that makes the mistake of attempting to invade their shanty town. And with what you may ask? The natural landscape of rubbery tin roofs, hardened wicker balls of steel, and a plethora of soccer balls kicked yards away with deadly 3-D accuracy.

What is nice about this movie is that Dan Chupong isn’t the main stunt actor in this battle of sports. Although he lays low with the village idiot who is a master of California Knockout, he obtains some guns. Which, in fact, is this movie’s letdown. Tony Jaa doesn’t need guns. Dan Chupong does. Is that cheap? Well, Dan is his own man, and can decide if he wants to be unfair for himself. But I have to give him credit, he can really use a gun with supernatural deadly accuracy.

But yes, the stunts are good and real (as Panna Rittikrai shows at the end of every film, his stunt actors getting rather horridly injured) and the action is intense, although the special effects may lack that pizzaz. I gotta say that nuke is rather a bust. But, other than that, there is some actually decent acting from the

It just. gets. insane.

villagers that inspires true tears, or, at least, with me. That is definitely something lacking in Tony Jaa’s films, other than Jaa himself. He is a regular Greg Kinnear. With a jam packed action scene once all the plot has been laid out and all seems lost, then this movie is really worth the watch. And guess what? Another Dan Chupong review is on the way. 7.5 out of 10.


Ong Bak 3

Okay, so let me start off by saying Tony Jaa makes me want to poop my pants. He is insane. Amazing. The things he can do with martial arts are just unspeakably ridiculous. He is hands down the most lethal man on the face of the planet. Okay, got that out of my system. But seriously. Ever since I found The Protector at my library and took it home to watch it, my pants have never been clean. Now to the movie at hand.

Tien (Tony Jaa) is a defeated warrior in the fourteenth century who has been captured and beaten to death. It is important to note that this is the third in the trilogy, although the first takes place in modern day and has nothing to do with Ong Bak 2 or 3. Tien was trained in the mountains in the ancient martial arts, bretrayed by his clan (in Ong Bak 2) and kills the very man who taught him those arts and killed his father. Pretty standard.

What’s not standard in Ong Bak 3 is what makes this movie stand out. The things they do to Tony in this movie are ridiculous. This movie is brutal. The torture is insane. And after all that, his entire body disfigured and broken, he comes back to beat the hell out of all those who oppose him. No mercy. With every movie, Tony Jaa improves his skill and dominates more than before with breathtaking moves. It’s a sight to see. Tien learns martial arts through the art of dance, (in an all to long scene, I might add) and uses his ridiculous skills in Muay-Thai boxing to destroy everyone. Literally, run train on all his foes.

That’s not to say that the whole movie has no plot. It’s pretty much like any other martial arts movie. But, Tony Jaa one ups every single movie by what he does. No stunt doubles, no wires, no CGI, no breakaway shots. Pretty much what you see in the movie, was done by Tony Jaa himself. It’s incredible. I know it may seem that I’m in love with Tony, but I’ve been watching martial arts movies for a while, and really, to be honest, nothing compares.

Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai, Tony’s mentor, did an amazing job writing and directing the Ong Bak series. Petchtai Wongkamlao is always funny as the bumbling partner that seems to always appear in all of Tony Jaa’s films, the cinematics and scenery of the shots in Ong Bak 3 are unrivaled, and the fight scenes will baffle you into disbelief. This movie, although not as good as Ong Bak 3, is still definitely worth the watch. It ends the series well and keeps me wanting more. Watch out rest of the world, Thailand has an ace in the hole. 10 OUT OF 10.