Panna Rittikrai's Born to Fight
made in 2004 is a non-stop action thriller with excellent Thai kickboxing sequences set to a riveting rock soundtrack. In a bust gone wrong, where Daew's partner is killed, drug lord General Yang is taken into custody to stand trial in the US. Afterwards Daew played by Dan Chupong is depressed and sits at home drinking beer. When the Sports Authority of Thailand arranges for athletes to travel to small villages to distribute blankets, toys and food, Daew's sister Tunta tries to entice him out of his shell to tag along. The Te kwan do association has asked her to represent them. Tunta is played by Rattaporn Khemtong who is actually on the Thai gymnastics team.
The peaceful time in the village of Pha Thong when the athletes arrive and meet the villagers is warm and friendly. There are even bursts of jealousy when the locals feel that their women are more interested in the athletes. The rituals of the Buddhist village and the strong sense of community where the inhabitants share food, play music and dance is suddenly and dramatically altered.
Suddenly an organized group of Yang's militia dressed in green fatigues and red scarves demand the release of the general or they will send a nuclear missile to Bangkok and kill all the villagers. The anarchists still kill a considerable number of them. The attack is broadcast on the Internet where demands are made for the release of Yang.
After the Thai national anthem is heard on the radio in the town square the athletes try to motivate the subdued people to resist. The momentum slowly builds and suddenly a counter attack begins where even the little girl Baetoey gives the soldiers a bruising. In real life she is Sasisa Jindamanee, the junior national champion in Thai kick boxing. She tells Tunta to execute the Ax of Thor on a woman in the militia who has been especially nasty. Nearly all of the villagers have some command of martial arts, which is pretty amazing. As the grey haired General Wang steps down off his chopper the villagers are in high gear punching the bejesus out of the troops. Daew is an incredible one-man act that kicks the living daylights out of numerous bad guys. Just as the villagers are lined up for a firing square bombs explode rigged to sabotage the enemy troops infrastructure. Soccer balls are pounded against the heads of the mercenaries. Meanwhile that missile aimed for Bangkok is on route. This incredible awakening of self defense for the village of Pha Thong is the high point of the film because after than nearly every baddie in sight gets a beating. With fists raised women and men get the best of the situation. Their determination is an inspiration especially how their agility and bravery outsmarts the gun power of the militia. Panna Rittikrai has also choreographed the films of his protege Tony Jaa in Ong bak 1
and The Protectors
directed by Praycha Pinkaew. Most recently Ong Bak 2
were screened at the Far East Film Festival in Udine last month where Panna Rittikrai and Praycha Pinkaew were guests. They have created a female action film where Zen a young autistic girl played by JeeJa Yanin takes on the underground world of her mother and like Daew pounces them to smithereens with Thai kick boxing. What the films lack in acting style and narrative development is more than compensated by the movement and charisma of these Thai martial artists.
For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan Udine Italy.
© 2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 5/20/09
Born to Fight
Thailand - 2004