torsdag 26 januari 2012

Two rare Thai trailers

I recently went to a company and transferred an old Thai movie from Betamax to an Avi-file so I could do something I would like to call restoration. The beginning of this tape was two trailers, and after talking with some real experts in Thai cinema we identified both movies. I've uploaded the trailers to YouTube, so I hope you enjoy them!

The first one is เจ้าพายุ, which means Hurricane. The Swedish/English title was Thunder Kid. If I got the information right it was released in 1980 and stars Sorapong Chatree and Nard Poowanai.

The second one is Chompae (ชุมแพ) from 1976, starring another one of my favorites, Sombat Metanee. Like the other movie this is also co-starring Nard Poowanai. The English title was Police Force 555, and in Sweden it just got the even shorter (and generic) name of Police Force.

Click on the videos and you will be redirected to YouTube where you can watch them the best possible way.

tisdag 17 januari 2012

Phra Rot-Meri (1981)

I really don't know what to write here, but I've just seen two hours weirdorama directed by Sir Confusalot himself, Sompote Sands. Phra Rot-Meri is probably a film-version of some old bizarre legend/fairy tale from Thailand, and it shows. What makes it even harder is that I saw this without subtitles! Anyway, a bunch of small girls is living in a ruin. A giant is walking around eating elephants so the blood spurts out of his mouth... The girls is being kidnapped, maybe, by a beautiful witch/princess/whatever and her two henchmen with big teeth and filled of family-fun slapstick.

Family-fun slapstick... until the day that one of the henchmen is giving the girls "something" so they grow up very fast, get pregnant, get their eyes torn out, get babies and becomes cannibals, graphically ripping one of the babies apart! One of the henchmen saves a baby, grows breast very fast and forces the baby, and after a while a little boy, to suck on his tits to get some milk. Lovely. The boy grows up to be a hunky young man, somehow get's involved in the politics and finally the giant black woman with mega-breasts shows up and crushing their beautiful city to pieces... That's it.

I guess it would be a bit more coherent if they dvd had subtitles? I'm not sure about that! Sompote Sands has created something that is far from a masterpiece, but the wicked feeling of the whole production makes it more interesting that it probably deserves. It has a lot of comedy, which ranges from giants beating each other in the head with clubs to little girls taking a shit on the temple wall. But when it get's mean it get's mean. The baby-ripping and eye-tearing is quite graphic, but with very primitive gore-effects, and the breast-sucking is disturbing. It's a pity that people tend to talk inbetween all these fun scenes though.

Two hours is a little bit much even for me. Some good miniature works, some cheesy gore, some silly slapstick plus a lot of talking, talking and talking. Take away 30-40 minutes of this movie and it could almost be a demented indonesian cousin, but now it was way to long.

torsdag 12 januari 2012

Jorrakay (1980)

Forget that awful abomination released on DVD called Crocodile, it's a terrible, re-cut and dubbed version of one of Sompote Sands best movies, Jorrakay. And I promise the original Thai version is superior, even without subtitles, compared with the Dick Randall-version. I've seem them both and I will probably never watch the other version ever again. Like that cut this is also about a doctor (Nard Poowanai) who wants to take revenge on the huge crocodile who killed his wife and daughter and his descent into crocodile-killing obsession.

The biggest difference is of course that Jorrakay seem a lot more serious without that wacky, silly English dubbing. The pacing is slower, but the Thai DVD also has a lot better quality and makes it more enjoyable the visual way than the US release. Much more focus is on the doctor and his sorrow and trouble surviving without his dear family, and it's odd how good this work without subtitles. The famous village-attack is here in complete for, which means only one attack (the US version has the attack divided into two scenes, which makes same actors and extras appear twice). I'm also pretty sure it's gorier, because I don't remember all the arms and legs sinking to the bottom of the river.

Even if the quality is mediocre, it's like f**king Criterion compared to the VCI version. With this comes a better look a miniatures and special effects, which always has been director/producer Sompote Sands speciality. They look better than before and a couple of the sequences involving a big-size animatronic crocodile looks damn impressive. I also love the jumping croc attacking the boat in the end, in a funnier and more over-the-top version of the ending in Jaws.

I'm not sure if Sompote directed or just produced Jorrakay, but it's clearly - in this form - his best movie. The pacing is slow, but good, and the acting is most of the time very good. I love how he adds an action scene at the exact point where the movie could be boring, saving both his and our skin. Nard Poowanai, who plays the lead, is a good hero and has both depth and talent to handle a serious character in a quite silly movie.

Beware also, animal friends, this movie has a quite nasty crocodile-killing scene which could have been done with special effects and not actually cutting the head of a real croc. Bad Sompote, but I'll forgive you because your awesome resume of cheap Kaiju knock-offs you produced before making this movie.

Jorrakay is out on good Thai DVD, without subtitles. It's some kinda widescreen and looked OK on my widescreen 40 inch TV. The story is easy to understand and it has enough crocodile-attacks and ultra-red fake blood to entertain the most hardened creature feature fan. 

onsdag 4 januari 2012

The Golden Triangle (1975)

The action cinema of Thailand in the seventies was very different, even if distributors all over the world desperately tried to make it seem more Hong Kong, more "kung fu" or "karate". But to be fair, that kind of action didn't appear in Thailand until Panna Rittikrai made Gerd Ma Lui in the eighties, before that the action was pretty basic and based on traditional fist fights and car-chases. From time to time Hong Kong and Thailand cooperated with movies and one of those is the 1975 movie The Golden Triangle. It's more of a Thai movie than a Hong Kong movie, even if the Hong Kong cast do their best to get some attention...

Sombat Metanee is a street wise tough guy who saves an old opium smuggler in bar fight. He joins the smuggler and his companions up the mountains and joins the team. The daughter of the man, Hung Sun-wu (Ni Tien) is very suspicious about their new friend, but slowly accepts him. This time they're planning to make a deal with a Hong Kong gangster, the nasty and slimy Lo Han (veteran actor Feng Tien) who together with his faithful henchman Tony Wong (even more legendary Lo Lieh) has more sinister plans. The deal goes terribly wrong and Lo Han and Tony steals the opium when the police attacks... and now Sombat and his gang of hoodlums must get it back!

The R1 DVD from Xenon Pictures looks quite terrible, VHS-quality and badly cropped from 2:35.1 to 4:3. This doesn't stop the movie from being very entertaining and the ambitions shines through the mediocre quality. Director Rome Bunnag (co-credited with Wu Ma) adds a lot of atmosphere to the beginning with handheld camera and gritty, seedy street- and bar-scenes from some unknown city by the sea in Thailand. Only the silly dubbing takes away from the movie magic here.

When Sombat Metanee makes his first scene the movie goes from seediness to the classic Sombat-action with a wonderful bar-brawl and him flexing his muscles, showing who's the boss. I'm not sure how to categorize Sombat, but he's a mix between Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson, Roger Moore and hell, yeah - even Arnold. But a way better actor than the last guy and without looking silly with his beefy appearance. He was 38 when The Golden Triangle was released and looks better than ever! The rest of the cast is really fun, especially the Hong Kong actors. Ni Tien mostly looks angry, but I think the dubbing did a lot of that, but works fine together with Sombat. Feng Tien, who plays the main baddie, is excellent. God, I love this guy. He was born to play bad guys and do it as a master! Lo Lieh has a smaller part, and is quite undefined, but gets to fight a bit at the end.

The action is good. Lots of shooting - and NO exploding huts (disappointing!). But the bloody shoot-out at the end and the excellent car-chase made of for those huts. I've seen more than a few Thai action movies from this time now and the car-chases always been of very high class. I wonder if there was a special stunt group working with this? They are often quite similar, but very well-done and looks dangerous. No faking the speed here, they go really fast and make big jumps!

I wish The Golden Triangle could be released in a better version on DVD, it's worth it and the movie is an excellent example of classic Thai action from the seventies.