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STUDIO: Magnet Releasing
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
* Behind the Scenes
“Imagine if Rain Man could fight his way out of trouble!”
Cast: JeeJa Yanin, Ammara Siripong, Hiroshi Abe
Director: Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak, The Protector)
Zin is a Thai woman who used to be involved with a local gangster, but one day fell in love with a Japanese Yakuza boss, Masashi. Masashi is forced to leave so that his woman can live in peace- there are just too many people who don’t approve of their pairing, especially Zin’s former lover. When he leaves it turns out that Zin is pregnant with his child. Zin names the little girl Zen but is soon dismayed to learn that she has autism and needs special care. Later on when her daughter is a teenager, gets sick with cancer and becomes a burden of her own.
The moral of the story? Race mixing is bad, kids! It gives you cancer and produces retarded offspring. Stay within your own!
“Uh oh fart. Uh oh fart”
Little dimwitted Zen spends most of her time eating chocolate and watching martial arts films, as well as the guys training at the Muay Thai school next door. Unlike someone like me who just gets fat when doing this she actually learns how to be a fantastic martial artist, with the style of everyone she watches. (Course, it appears the only footage they could could afford was from director Pinkaew’s previous films, but just imagine that she’s watching everything from Fists of Fury to Project A.)
Moom, a childhood friend of hers, realizes her skills and they earn money by having her sit in the street and have people throw balls at her face.
Better than the usual way kids make money over there, I guess. Of course she’s fast and catches everything thrown her way. The duo soon learn a better way to pay for her mom’s medical bills, as it turns out that Zin is owed money by a lot of people from the old days. So they set out to collect that debt. And at every place they turn, when people realize that there’s an autistic girl trying to get money from them, they attempt to beat the shit out of her. No discrimination in Thailand! Of course she puts all her visual training into use and throws down beatdowns the likes of which have never been seen before on film.
Come for the fights, sit through the boring story! Wait, that’s not it…
Oh yeah, that’s the problem with this movie. Much like Ong Bak and The Protector before it, the story here is mind-numbing as hell. It takes up even more of the running time here than ever before, so you’ve got quite a bit of time to wait to see the cool stunts and fights. JeeJa Yanin is no actress, and does more crying and yelling “MOOM!” than anything else. It’s irritating and you understand why everyone tries to beat her up.
“Maple syrup is supposed to be on the table before the pancakes!”
But in all seriousness, the fights really are fantastic. JeeJa is an amazing talent, and when you watch the little bloopers at the end of the film you’ll find it even more believable that this girl is beating the shit out of everyone. Why? Because a lot of their fights were full contact, and you have to see the damage she did to some of them. It’s absolutely brutal and unprecedented- she trained for five years just for this role!
The other impressive thing is that she changes up her fighting style throughout the film. Since the character is self-trained martial artist she fights in the style of the most famous ones around. The first fight is straight up Bruce Lee, later on she turns into a dodging and object-chucking Jackie Chan. She pulls out the elbows for a Tony Jaa match later on and even (in one of the best fights in the film) does some capoeira. That particular fight features our young autistic hero fighting a spazzy kid with tourettes, and it’s only till she watches him for a bit and figures out his moves that she can mimic him and take him down.
Let me repeat that- THERE IS A FIGHT IN THIS FILM WHERE AN AUTISTIC GIRL FIGHTS A GUY WITH TOURETTES.
There are also a ton of homages to famous kung fu fights, from a battle in an ice factory to a place that looks just the House of Blue Leaves. It’s just a shame these fantastic fights and stunts weren’t supported by a better story, and by better I mean shorter. No one cares that Tony Jaa had to find his town’s idol, or pet elephant. Those bits were the most laughable pieces of Pinkaew’s first movies, and unfortunately it seems that he tried to do even more of it here and make it even more serious.
There is a way to have a ton of fun with this movie, but that relies on how much booze is in your house and how much you hold down the fast forward button.
All that’s included is a 9 minute behind the scenes featurette.
There also is the option to watch the film with the original voices intact, or an English dub. Don’t make the wrong decision.