onsdag 17 oktober 2012

Krai Thong (ไกรทอง, 1980)

When visited Sompote Sangduenchai (aka Sompote Sands) earlier this year I got a unique look into a fantastic film factory like I never seen before. The only problem was that it was destroyed by the recent flooding in Thailand and the whole area was roughed up by the water. The doors into his house still had marks from the waterline, way way above what's even could be considered close to normal and it was shocking to understand how much props, posters... yeah, Thai movie history, that was destroyed during that disaster. Before we left the place we stopped by one of the big studios, now more or less empty because of the destruction - and I saw this:

Yeah, it's two of the crocodiles he always used in his movies. One with a wider nose and this one, with a more pointed snout. It might not say anything to you, but for me it was like being close to a legend - a cult movie legend in the form of a crocodile puppet being used to eat so many Thai stars over the years. What's even more bizarre, I never seen one of his more famous creations, the super-hit Krai Thong starring Sombat Metanee, Sorapong Chatree and Aranya Namwong. Today, after failing to see one single Thai movie for many months I finally sat down to watch it.

Chalawa (Sombat) is a might Crocodile Wizard living in a golden cave deep down under the water. One day he falls in love with two beautiful women, daughters of a rich man, and kidnaps them. They seem happy about it, but not the father who calls out for someone to save them - and here Krai Thong shows up, played by Sorapong - and he takes it upon himself to find and battle the wizard and stop his crocodile terror once and for all!

Like many of Sangduenchai's films it's a bit rough around the edges. It's closer to some Thai opera than a typical monster movie. And with Thai opera I mean it's very theatrical, filled with colourful costumes and sets that might not look realistic - but still works fine because the rest of the movie is so over-the-top. Actually, that description could work on most of Sangduenchai's films! But I think you know what I mean. The story it's more clear and understandable than usual, but it's also based on a classical folk tale and having a more defined storyline than if it was his own creation. It's actually not directed by Sompote, at least not according to the credits - but he's the man behind it, it's easy to see.

I love big rubber crocodiles and so do Sompote, as we all know. Krai Thong is packed with crocodile attacks, people getting chomped by the monster and everything is mixed with real crocodiles who hardly look like the rubber one at all. In one short shot the croc is about 500 times bigger than in the rest of the movie, which probably means that this shot is just stock footage from some earlier film he made. The attacks are pretty well made with a lot of pumping blood and kids being eaten over and over again. Fun for the whole family!

The actors do what they do best, looking cool. Sombat is mostly down in his cave making out with two ladies and Sorapong is mostly on the ground trying to find Sombat. They're both good and knows what they're doing after 500 movies behind them both. That's something called experience like few other actors have!

Krai Thong might just be for us, the most obsessed, but if you feel for watching it there's some good news: the Thai DVD and VCD actually has English subs! Amazing, and it makes everything much more clear!