STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
MSRP: 26.98
RUNNING TIME:  119 minutes
     • Behind the scenes footage
     • Making of Legend of the Tsunami Warrior

The Pitch

It’s a locally flavored version of Pirates of the Caribbean boiled back down into its Star Wars lifted roots from our favorite Thai studio Sahangmonkol.

“Oh c’mon. You’ve really never seen a Star Wars Film?”

The Humans

Director:  Nonzee Nimibutr

Cast:  Ananda Everingham, Dan Chupong, Sorapong Chatree, Jakrit Panichpatikam, Winai Kraibutr, Chartchai Ngamsan, Attaporn Teemakorn, Jesdaporn Pholdee

The Nutshell

The inheritors of the kingdom of Langkasuka, three princesses, fight to maintain power as outside forces perceive the female rulers as week. Meanwhile, a nearby fishing village might end up being the most important piece of that kingdom .Inventor Lim Kium and the secrets of a set of sunken super cannons, which may hold the key to power, are hidden there as well as a master of the mystical art of Du Lum. It’s a race between Princess Hijau and the pirate master Prince Ravai to gain control of the cannons and assert themselves as the future rulers of Langkasuka.

Jarang celebrates victory with elaborate Bollywood style musical number.

The Lowdown

If there is one scourge that this site and especially Devin Faraci have complained most fervently about it is the never ending Joseph Campbelling of our genre films. The success of Star Wars was the spark that lit that fuse and more recently it was the Matrix that helped to repopularize the Jesus story as archetype. The story worked for those movies and proved so inspiring that now every action/fantasy/sci-fi film bears the exact same structure. It’s old and tired and really needs to be retired. Which brings us to Tsunami Warrior.

Starting out with the sinking of a fleet of ships carrying a set of cannons so powerful that they could turn the tide of any war, along with their inventor Janis Bree, by pirates led by evil Prince Ravai. Lim Kium, the assistant to Bree escapes the destruction and takes up residence in a fishing village on the outskirts of the Langkasuka kingdom, while helping to look after a child orphaned in the attacks. It’s here that he hopes he will be forgotten along with the cannons. As you could probably guess, the orphaned child has a life of great destiny ahead of him.

Masters of Du Lum slowly transform into John C Reilly.

Meanwhile an assassination attempt on the Princess Hijau and her sisters results in the scarring of royal guard hopeful Jarang while saving the Princesses. He is immediately branded a hero and given great distinction among the royal guard. The evil Prince Ravai unsuccessful in killing the Princesses decides to focus on retrieving the lost cannons in hopes of conquering the kingdom with a full on assault. Years pass, the orphan Pari becomes a man and learns the mystical art of Du Lum (which includes the ability to talk through your stomach and turns you into the Thai equivalent to Aquaman) which he hopes to use to defend his village from pirates. Lim Kium is discovered and taken by the pirates who kill everyone in the village including Pari’s wife. Shit gets epic from there.

As stated, this is purely familiar territory plot wise. Will the head strong Princess Ungu, who doesn’t want to marry for political purposes, fall in love with her rescuer? Will Pari lose himself to the dark side of Du Lum? Will the seemingly dead mystical warrior Pari make a dramatic 11th hour save? For fucks sake, there is a third act reveal of a shocking, parental nature. It’s all been done before. So does it do it well? Not really. Save for some inspired moments, the film just drags way too much. With a length of 2 hours it needed more forward momentum to justify the bloated runtime.

I’ll give this film credit for some great set design and surprisingly good CGI work. The kingdom of Langkasuka is realized with both intricately designed set and CGI green screening. The Princesses throne room is a fairly impressive looking backdrop for one of the films too few fight scenes. It is fairly light on mano y mano action which I found disappointing considering Dan Chupong of such great fight films as Ong Bak and star of Born to Fight was cast in a supporting role. The fight scenes that do show up are competently staged and fun, but it’s such an afterthought that I found myself wanting more. The big setpieces featuring large battles both on land and sea don’t really give much of a sense of tension nor excitement.

Chupong and awe.

The actors all do well with the material, especially the two main focus Princesses Raja and Ungu. Raja playing the upright leader of Langkasuka and Ungu being her independent minded daughter. Dan Chupong playing Jarang does exactly what he was brought to do, whip some ass. Everingham feels a bit weak to be the Luke Skywalker of the film, but not to a degree that he actually detracts from the film, just underwhelming. There is no one giving a performance to help the material rise above its station, like Johnny Depp did in the Pirates films, which is another factor keeping this film from ever getting off the ground.

It’s not a bad film per se, just very unnecessary. Much of the films problems could have been solved with better action scenes. Films of this length have proven quite enjoyable when wrapped in a more exciting package. Pirates of the Caribbean is an example of a film like this getting it closer to right while running long. Of course a lack of Johnny Depp can never be over looked. With some caveats I’d say it’s worth a look, especially for those fans of Thai action cinema.

William Shatner’s pool party!

The Package

The film is available with both English and Thai 5.1 language options and English, English narrative, and Spanish subtitles. the behind the scenes featurette is 5 minutes long and consists mostly of a handful of context free shots of some of the more impressive sets and model work. Not very thorough but gives a bit of insight into where the sets stopped and the green screens start. The making of featurette has director Nimibutr speaking on the origins of the film and how he feels that it is something unique and very un-Hollywood like (he is wrong). Not much actually making-of, but informative nonetheless.

OVERALL 5.5 out of 10  
Fucking awesome!