söndag 13 maj 2012

Tiger from River Kwai (ข้ามาจากแม่น้ำแคว, 1975)

I smell a co-production here. Tiger from River Kwai is a western movie (probably) shot in Spain with an Italian crew starring a Thai movie star and a Hong Kong nobody as heroes plus an American actor doing his usual bad guy routine. And that's cool! Krung Srivilai is the Thai actor and Kam Won Lon, who I never heard of in my entire life, plays the other hero in this light-weight western-adventure directed by Franco Lattanzi. The Spaghetti Western Database mentions a Hong Kong producer, Fu Sheng, and it wouldn't surprise me if there was Thai money involved also. Why would they use a Thai actor and shoot scenes in Thailand? Like I wrote above, I can smell an international co-production miles away and here we have one.

Krung is playing a nice Thai guy who goes to America to deliver the ashes of a dead friend to his family. Well, not only that, but also an elephant statue filled with gemstones! Somehow a gang of bandits have heard this and they decided to rob the "Thailander", but they make a mistake and tries to rob a Chinese restaurant owner instead, Kam Won Lon, and this makes him involved in protecting his new Asian friend. But the bandits won't give up, and the leader (Gordon Mitchell) does everything in his way to get the stones... including innocent families and fucking around with the wrong sheriff... Luigi Montefiori!

Tiger from River Kwai is a quite entertaining western, but neither original or creative. Putting martial arts in westerns is nothing new and the odd thing for me is just putting a Thai and a Chinese together against Gordon Mitchell. THAT's original, but never makes any sense. It's even hard to understand why they would hook up and fight together. But Krung is a good actor, and one of the finest action actors from Thailand. He had a bit rougher look than Sorapong and Sombat and also played more unsympathetic characters (at least before Sombat decided to go more dark later in his career). Here he's very good in a western environment and his fistfight against Gordon Mitchell is hardly unique, but very good entertainment. What makes him more bizarre is the strange English dub they given him - some very odd accent, it's not Thai, that's for sure. But that Chinese dude has it even worse. He's dubbed by someone who sounds like a valium-drugged child-molester! Yeah, it's a very slimy and weak voice.

Also watch out for Luigi Montefiori, but his character is more of a cameo than anything else - but he's a nice addition to the cast if nothing.

Tiger from River Kwai is an interesting East meets West, but lacks the personality and spectacle it needed to be something special. Why not use more traditional Thai stuff? Why just let Krung kick around like some normal drunk? Why choose such a pale Hong Kong actor as... I already forgot his name? It's never boring, or badly made, it just needed that extra boost of... something. If I was the producer I would have taken Gordon Mitchell and his gang to Thailand, followed by Montefiori - and letting them be confused over a much more exotic and interesting country than the US. That would have resulted in some pretty interesting action sequences.

But hey, that's just my imagination! To see this movie you either have to own the VHS or download an VHS-rip, but rumour says that MYA Communications will release it on DVD, which would be awesome. I would be first in line to buy it!