tisdag 19 juni 2012

Aussawin Darb Gaiyasid (อัศวินดาบกายสิทธิ์, 1970)



From the first of October 1970 to the fifth, the same year, just under a week, Mitr Chaibancha was in Hong Kong and Taiwan and shot one of the few foreign (or co-productions) movies in his career. A couple of days later he was back in Pattaya and did the final scenes in Golden Eagle, the first movie he produced and starred in at the same time. As we all know, that final take was the take that led to his death and he left behind 266 feature length movies in fourteen years and 18 unfinished productions that had to be shut down or re-shot because of his death!

I don’t know the original title of Aussawin Darb Gaiyasid, but most of the cast seem to be Chinese – and the only actor I can identify is the great and awesome Kien Shih. The female lead is played be a Thai actress in this version, but I heard that it was a Chinese actress doing the part in the Hong Kong version. Anyway, because I watched it without subtitles and it has a lot of story and characters it was kinda hard to follow. But what we have is the traditional love story, two enemy families and one of them owns a salt mine. Chaibancha plays the son in one of the families and seem to be fighting a lot with another dude, maybe someone from the other family. In one sequence I get the idea that one of them has some kind of psychic powers, because he can move heavy objects. Maybe making them magnetic. Yeah, that’s about it.

I’ve been trying to decipher the Thai Wikipedia about this movie with the help of Google Translate, and after Chaibancha died the director also brought in another actor with a similar face and body to shoot rest of Chaibancha’s scenes. I didn’t notice this when I watched it, so either it was very little or the other actor had very similar look.

Even if I didn’t understand a friggin’ word of the movie I enjoyed it immensely. The action was more or less non-stop with a lot of fun and bloody sword-fighting. Maybe because of the print quality, it had a very nice gritty feeling. Especially those scenes shot outside of the studio, around beautiful Taiwan. Cool angles, some smart use of handheld camera and lots of energy. Sure, it might just be the result of the low budget and fast shooting schedule, but it still looks and feels very impressive.

Mitr Chaibancha impresses in the only serious role I’ve seen him in so far (when this review was written, which was a while ago...). After all the tongue-in-cheek action flicks from Thailand it was cool to see him in such a meaty, blood-soaked, part. Petchara Chaowarat also appears, and she's a fantastic actress that worked together with Chaibancha for many, many movies. 

The Thai DVD from Triple X is not bad at all. Anamorphic widescreen and, I think, uncut. The print is quite rough, but for us that appreciate these kind of movies it just makes it even better.

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