lördag 18 maj 2013

The Kick (วอนโดนเตะ!!, 2011)

Last year I visited Thailand for the second time and even if I bought at least 50 movies there, met movie legends and had a blast in every way possible, I think The Kick is one of the first Thai movies I've watched in almost a year. It's not that I got tired of Thai films, it's that I miss Thailand (and Bangkok) so damn much. Watching these flicks makes me go into some kind of post-Thailand depression - and it happens every time. I never travel to Thailand to drink cheap booze or lay on the beach, for me it's about meeting fanastic people, getting lost in the labyrinth of Bangkok streets... I feel at home there, which is odd - I dislike when it's people everywhere. But Bangkok makes me feelt at home. Need to go there soon again...
The Kick is director Prachya Pinkaew (Ong-Bak, Tom yum goong) latest movie to be released, and it was in 2011 (I'm ignoring Elephant White from the same year, which just felt like another boring American action film). But it's never been released in any easy accessible English (or Swedish)-friendly release - until I noticed that Swedish company Njuta Films would release it! One way or another it found it's way to me and hey, this isn't bad at all!
A South Korean Taekwondo family have emigrated to Thailand to (I guess) run a school and stuff like that. By a coincidence they help saving a national treasure, an ancient knife (the McGuffin of this movie, it could have been an elephant, a Buddha or something else - it's just not that important). The baddies wants revenge and the knife, and attacks the family and kidnaps their youngest kid - and the family is forced to help them steal the knife again! But of course they want to make everything right - together with their Thai relatives, masters of Muay Thai!
The films of Pinkaew (and stunt choreographer Rittikrai) have never been famous for their elaborate plots and it's the same with The Kick. It's a very simple story, almost too simple, but works because one of the best casts so far in one of their movies. The South Korean actors are all very good, and handles both the drama and action very well. The main Thai actors are the BRILLIANT JeeJa Yanin, one of the best female fighters I've seen and also a fine actress, and the famous comedian Petchtai Wongkamlao aka Mum Jokmok. I like him, but he's a very aquired taste - and I'm happy to say that he's bringing us a low-key, realistic performance here with very little of his trademark comedy - and he's great. I hope to see him do stuff like this more. He's perfect as a grumpy middle-aged uncle.
But like all of these films the action is the number one star. Now, this is a family friendly action film so don't expect the bloodshed and ultra-violence of the Ong-Bak or Born to Fight, but it doesn't mean it's spectacular. The fights are as usual filmed in a way so we can see what's happening and they're getting gradually more spectacular the further the story goes. The highlight is the when the teenage son uses his dance moves to fight a bunch of baddies in the jungle. It's a brilliant example of how Pinkaew and Rittikrai always tries to evolve the fights, makes them a bit more unique than the usual stuff. Another fun scene is in a kitchen when Mum Jokmok and the South Korean mother creates a chaotic symphony by destroying everything around them in order to kick the shit out of the bad guys. 
It's a lot of action and some very fine stunts during the last half of the movie. So I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's a fine co-production between South Korea and Thailand and I'm surprised I haven't it seen it getting better distributon outside Asia. I hope more fans of creative martial arts will get a chance to see it.