STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $22.95
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
• Film notes by Justin Bowyer
• Making of Ab-Normal Beauty
• Trailers

The Pitch

meets Before Sunset!"

The Humans

Monkolpisit, Wanatchada Siwapornchai.

(I would
like some porn chai.)

The Nutshell

Bank and
Som are just a pair of young adults trying to make it big in
Bangkok. Bank is a drug dealer, and
sometimes user. Som is a whore. Since they only live a couple of floors apart,
they naturally fall for each other. When a drug-running job that promises
untold wealth falls into their lap, they’re going to have to face up to a tough
reality: opportunity knocks but once.

The Lowdown

One Take Only is a Pang Brothers production. As
such, it’s got a pretty reliable set of qualities. It’s stylish, edited as if
by a German expressionist, shallow, and tightly focused. It shares these
qualities by other Pang Brothers riffs like the horror piece The
(and its sequels) and minor cult classic Bangkok Dangerous.

One Take Only isn’t near as high-concept as
those others from the ol’ portfolio; at its heart, located conveniently on its
sleeve, it’s a very simple story about two young lovers. Complications surround
the core, what with all the selfishness that drives their relationship. The
arrangement that Bank and Som come to is charming in its own serpentine way;
each sees the other as a star to which one might hitch his or her wagon.

You think it ain’t easy? I’ll show you how fucking easy it is.

makes up for roughly half of the drama. Situations end up badly, as they often
do when drug deals are involved in cinema, with the condemnation falling partly
on the characters’ own impetus to grab as much for themselves. It’s not a new
tactic for this kind of morality play, and it’s not played with particular

It’s the
other half of the drama that holds all the compelling material. The other half
of the blame for the characters’ eventual discomfort is given to an unnamed
force that might as well be fate. There’s a scene key to this interpretation
that occurs shortly before the big job. While waiting for Bank to hash out the
deal, Som notices a little homeless girl trying to sell garlands to passers by
at a streetlight. Taking pity on the girl, Som offers to help. For some reason,
the drivers are far more willing to buy a twenty baht garland from a cute girl in short-shorts than a snot-nosed kid
with a bad haircut.

It seems
like a kindness, but Pang does a clever job condemning the action at the same
time. Before, the little girl was self-reliant. She may not have been making
much, but she had only herself to berate or congratulate. Now, Som enters the
picture like a fickle little angel, and with only her presence ends up
shattering the girls self-reliance.

They’re so smart in Thailand that even apartment numbers
are expressed in fractions.

The moral
— that you can’t depend on others for your survival — is as true as it is
cynical, and dovetails nicely into the conclusion. The film’s title seems to
refer to the truism that lightning doesn’t strike twice, in the positive sense.
You get an opportunity, you have to take it, or it’ll pass you by. In this way,
fate leads Som and Bank to the violent confrontation with their buyers, and at
the same time it is their mutual insistence on relying on the other that
squelches their chances.

enough meat here to spark at least a discussion or two, but it is clumsily
presented. The film meanders, purposeless, for a good two-thirds of its running
time, during which audience sympathies and interests float around without an
anchor. The content, the fable elements, don’t come into play until a solid
fifty minutes into the ninety minute film. Since that’s the only part that
really deserves dissection, it makes for a seriously lopsided film. It’s good
if you want to do a bit of unnecessary digging for the material, but if you’re not a cineaste with a beachcomber’s
masochism, the construct is just too flawed.

Did you know there’s no Fourth of July in Bangkok? It’s true.
They just go from the Third right to the Fifth,
like some hotels don’t have a Thirteenth floor.

The Package

Two slim
bonuses for your enjoyment. Film critic Justin Bowyer provides some "notes"
(not a full commentary) on the Pangs and One Take Only. He’s got some good
things to say, and the content kind of obviates the need for a DVD review such
as this. Damnit, though, you can be sure I’m unbiased. This is CHUD. We rape

The other
bonus is a "making-of" featurette… for a different movie. Oxide
Pang’s "Ab-Normal Beauty" gets a little behind-the-scenes look,
probably intended to entice viewers into checking the film out. In that vein,
there are also the requisite trailers and previews for other Tartan releases.

6.2 out of 10