tisdag 1 maj 2012

Taloompuk (ตะลุมพุก มหาวาตภัยล้างแผ่นดิน, 2002)

My hobby since my early teens is to watch every disaster movie made in the world. Nowadays it's getting harder and harder, not because there's not enough titles but because there's nothing stopping them from becoming more and more! Thanks SyFy Channel, you're ruining me! It's extra fun to watch non-American disaster movies and the Asian part of our world has been quite effective churning out big and small melodramas with natural disasters in a big supporting role. I've only seen one Thai disaster movie before, the extremly mediocre Tsunami 2022. So I was a bit worried when I put Taloompuk into the player...

Based on a true event when a tsunami caused a big disaster in Thailand during the fifties or early sixties. That's at least the backdrop to this classic love story. Almost a Romeo and Juliet, but between a young Buddhist man and a Muslim woman. Their families both opposes the relationship and most angry of them all are another man, maybe the brother of the woman. But the further the problem escalates between the families something is creeping up on them, a disastrous storm getting closer and closer... and soon they are in the middle of the eye storm fighting for their lives...

Taloompuk is in every way possible superior to Tsunami 2022. The latter one is mostly an excuse to blame the tsunami on gay corrupt politicans, and that's quite far from the truth. In this movie the disaster just is there, a part of life. The movie actually begins with something that looks like authentic photos from the real disaster, including dead bodies and destroyed houses. It sets the atmosphere pretty fast and when the rest of the movie is a very well-acted, serious and good drama without any form of exploitation it raises above a lot of other similar movies. Don't expect a wall-to-wall disaster movie, the first hour is spent on fleshing out the characters with romance and melodrama. But that also helps us care for the characters when the disaster strikes during the last 45 minutes.

The cast is good, but the only one I can identify is the excellent Chatchai Plengpanich - famous from the notorious Cannibal Mercenary, but also a well-known edgy character actor. One of my favourite actors together with Suchao Pongvilai (who actually starred in Tsunami 2022 if I don't remember it wrong).

So, how's the disaster? The film is focused on the human drama, but spends a lot of time in the disaster area during the disaster. We have some crumbling buildings, a huge tidal wave coming in over the town, lots of water and chaos - and a surprisingly effective decapitation in the middle of it all. It's spectacular and quite well-made, but this is not a movie about special effects or action. But I'll recommend it anyway, both to fans of good dramas and to disaster-aficionados.