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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Muay Thai Giant

April 23rd, 2011

Muay Thai Giant - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Thailand is currently in the middle of a boom for martial arts movies and it seems every few weeks a new one makes its way to the United States. Muay Thai Giant is the latest one I've gotten a chance to review and it features more than a few familiar faces from other such movies. Its pedigree is a good sign, but will the end result match expectations?

The Movie

We watch as a few tourists land in Thailand for a vacation. However, while Thailand's a great place to visit, there are also unsavory elements looking to take advantage of visitors. Barney Emerald was one such victim. After drinking with a pretty lady at a bar till he is good and drunk, they spike his drink and rob him. Now he's stuck in a foreign country with no money, no identification, and no passport to get home. I'm impressed that they would have the chutzpah to pull that off, as Barney is just shy of seven feet tall. He looks like he's not the kind of guy to mess with. However, he's a gentle giant. In fact, when a young girl, Katen (Nawarat Techarathanaprasert) gets chased by some gang members she stole from, he proves size isn't everything and gets beat up. He doesn't even put up a fight. Fortunately, he's rescued by Dokya (Sasisa Jindamanee from Power Kids, a film I previously reviewed). Dokya is Katen's sister and an expert martial arts and is able to fight off the three attackers using Bryce as a wall.

Since Bryce doesn't have a place to stay, the two girls take him home to their mother, who runs a small restaurant. He is determined to pay them back for their kindness, so he helps out at an orphanage run by Buddhist monks. When he tries the som tum at the restaurant, a spicy salad made with unripe papaya, he has an adverse reaction. And I don't mean an allergic reaction, but he turns red and in a desperate attempt to cool his tongue, he destroys the restaurant. He really wants to pay for the repairs, but he had limited ways for getting money. He can't fight, and no amount of training is helping, so going to the matches is no use. He can't dance, so becoming a stripper is out of the question. (Yes, that was an option put forth.) But he's determined to find a way.

Meanwhile, we occasionally visit that tourist we saw land at the beginning of the movie. Turns out he's not a tourist, but he's here in Thailand to pull off a jewel heist. It's obvious that Barney, Katen, and Dokya are going to become entangled in that heist, but the details of that are too far into spoiler territory to get into.

I've already brought up Power Kids above, and the two films have a lot in common, and not just the presence of Sasisa Jindamanee. The films shares a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a lot of the comedy is quite slapstick and since two of the three stars are young girls, I get the impression that the film is aimed at kids. However, it is also quite violent, bloody, and even quite dark at times. (It earned an R-rating.) The fight Dokya has in the ring is particularly hard to watch. There are other fights that mix the comical and the bloody quite well. For instance, when the cop bust the gang that stole Barney's passport in the first place. The end "warning shot" was a little surprising, but funny. Obviously the best part of the movie is the fights, and there are a number of them, while there's also quite a lot of variety between them. Dokya, while defending Katen from the gang, uses Barney as little more than a prop. The cop taking down the gang members ends in the kitchen of their little hideout, which allows for the use of improvised pepper spray. Dokya in a professional fight is brutal, but when the professional fighter tries to get his revenge, it's a lot more comedic. (In this fight, Sasisa Jindamanee is joined by Kessarin Ektawatkul, who was in The Vanquisher, which was another Thai film I've previously reviewed.) And of course there's the big climactic fight where Barney finally finds his fighting spirit, which is heavy on the wrestling. This is not surprising, as Nathan Jones is a professional wrestler, as well as a song by the Supremes.

While the fighting scenes are clearly the main reason to watch the movie, the rest are not bad either. The comedy is a little goofy and some of the acting is not exactly award-worthy (it's hard to act in a language you are not fluent in) but it doesn't cause the film to grind to a halt while you wait for the next flying elbow.

The Extras

Extras on the Blu-ray include two featurettes, one called a making of and the other a behind-the-scenes. Both have lots of behind-the-scenes footage, but the former also has interviews with the cast and crew. The disc is also BD-Live enabled, but so far there are just some trailers.

On the technical side, the film doesn't exactly shine, but that's also not a problem. Details are good, colors are bright, blacks are deep, but it is not on the same level of a big-budget Hollywood film. The audio is clear, but the surround sound speakers are underused. Solid, but unspectacular.

On the other hand, the Blu-ray costs just $1 more than the DVD, so it is the clear choice if you are interested in buying.

The Verdict

Sasisa Jindamanee has been in three movies, and by some weird coincidence, I've reviewed them all. Muay Thai Giant is a fun movie that combines action and comedy rather well. It's too violent to kids, on the other hand, so keep that in mind. If you are a fan of the genre, it's worth checking out, while I would say it is worth buying over just renting. And if you are going to buy, grab the Blu-ray over the DVD.

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Filed under: Video Review, Muay Thai Giant