STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
MSRP:  $14.98
RUNNING TIME:  106 Minutes                                 
     •Making of documentary
     •Languages Thai, English
     •Subtitles English, Spanish
The Pitch

Make a version of X-Men based in Buddhist philosophy, remove all the humor, and make it even more nonsensical.

The Humans

Director:  Thanakorn Pongsuwan

Cast:  Leo Putt, Somchai Kemglad, Shahkrit Yamnarm, Pongpat Wanchirabunjong, Athip Nana, Nirut Sirichanya, Ray MacDonald, Kemapsorn Sirisukha

The Nutshell

Detective Techit(Putt) kills himself in order to be reborn as an Opapatika, a sort of Buddhist super hero born out of death. Sent on a mission to stop 4 other dangerous Opapatikas at the behest of a mysterious man who himself is a dying Opapatika with great wealth and a personal army. Many action scenes ensue and a small nation of humans are killed in the process.

                  “Gah! Who put a heart in this guys chest?”

The Lowdown

Having enjoyed on one level or another the films I’ve seen from Thailands Baa Ram Ewe/Sahamongkol films it was a nice surprise to find out that I was getting to review a release from them. Ong Bak, Chocolate, Tom Yum Goong, and Born to Fight were all fun on at least some level or another. They weren’t perfect but at the very least they all had something to add. People used to looking for good action films found that these were all a step up from some of the recent uninspired domestic stuff. While I didn’t recognize the director nor actors as holdovers from those productions(aside from having Prachya Pinkaew serve as a producer) I had hope that at the very least the action would fit in with those films. Add in fantasy/super hero elements to the usual Muay Thai action and we should have a sure fire recipe for a good time, right?

The problems start early on as we receive no introduction to the main character before he shoots himself in the head. I’m told he’s a detective, although I never see him working with any cops nor do anything cop like in the entire movie. His sponsor, Sadok(Sirichanya), is there to urge on his death. There is no motivation given here for the main character, Techit(Putt) to do this. It is never clear why he is working with Sadok and especially why he would forfeit his life in his service. If it’s about money or revenge, we are never told. He seems to be set up as the audiences POV as he enters this world with a fresh set of eyes, so I can understand the blank slate aspect, but to make such huge leaps in the actions he takes pulled me right out of any identification.

               Why you should avoid taking medical advice from Rambo

So Techit is tasked with ending the lives of four other Opapatika for, as we’re told, Sadok who is worried that with his death there will be no one to watch over them. Basically they’re deemed too dangerous to live. These Opapatika are: Paison(Yamnarm) a contract killer whose power consists of being able to see the killshot on anyone yet himself suffers the wounds of those he kills, Ramil(Nana) who can project a phantom version of himself to do his bidding but becomes more fused with him the more he uses him, Aruth(MacDonald) who at night turns into a sort of Mr. Hyde killing machine, and Jiras(Kemglad) who can’t die. Techit himself is slowly losing his senses as he uses his own psychic powers. Each power curses the owner to a life of misery. That brings up my second issue with this movie, everyone is so damn dreary.

Fun is just something this movie has no interest in being. I really wish it did. There are some interesting ideas in here and the concept of super powered beings is actually given a fresh take. What we’re left with is just another gloomy copy of so many other action films that take themselves too damn serious. Nobody in the movie enjoys their powers in the least.

         Everyone’s afraid of Virginia Tiger!  

The third and maybe biggest issue I have with this film is that the action scenes are just not interesting. Most of the action is either hard to make out or just not very inspired. People stand in place and shoot at each other until one of them falls. Wire work is sparse and mainly amounts to big jumps, usually towards some poor faceless target. Part of the problem is that the Opapatika Paisson is a great shot, Jiras can’t be killed, Ramil attacks with an unkillable phantom projection and Aruth moves super fast, so they’ve undercut the potential of making these characters be forced to do anything special. Most of the human soldiers stand around waiting to get killed and the only real threat to the Opapatikas is each other. We end up with the Opapatikas attacking each for ill defined reasons before sort of teaming up in the final showdown.

The conclusion finds all the pieces in place for one super violent final confrontation. Sadok and his personal general Thuwachit(Wachirabunjong) along with his neverending supply of soldiers take on the Opapatika. The action is just as boring as the many scenes that preceded it. There is a twist that you will have surely seen coming early on that seems to bring some sense to the rest of the film, but it’s too little too late. The gaps in motivation still remain only now they have a nice hat.

Overall, it should be said said that I wanted to like this movie. The end product just isn’t there. Action scenes pile up with no consequence or reason. What little back story any of the characters is given does little to differentiate them from each other in any meaningful way and we’re expected to care about relationships that are never expounded upon. While the movie has a beginning and an end, what comes in between is quite a boring mess.

The Package

The movie includes a handful of trailers for some of Magnolias other releases such as Big Man Japan, Mutant Chronicles and Surveillance. There is a “making of” documentary that consists of basically a fluff promo piece talking about the characters featured in the movie. The picture quality on the disc is sub par, although I don’t know if that had anything to do with the cinematographer or not, suffice to say it’s a bit grainy. Audio tracks are available in English and Thai in either 5.1 or 2.0. Subtitles offered are in English, Spanish and English for the hearing impaired.

OVERALL 5.0 out of 10

“So what’s your power?”
“I’m Kentucky Fried”