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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Power Kids

June 6th, 2010

Power Kids - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

I've reviewed a lot of films from Asia, including several from Thailand. Like most such films, Power Kids is a martial arts movie, but it is also a family film... maybe. The four main protagonists are all kids and some of the humor is definitely aimed at kids, but some of the plot is a little strange for a kid's movie. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

The film starts with a stylishly shot scene of soldiers and refugees getting mowed down my machine gun fire in some unidentified jungle, which is not something you would see in a kid's movie from the United States. Afterward, the film switches to a martial arts school where a man, Lek, is teaching a couple children the art of Muay Thai. There's his niece, Cat, his nephew, Woot, as well as a son of a friend and famous musician and comedian, Pong. Their friend, Jib, also trains with them sometimes, but spends more time with her remote control car. Finally there is Woon, the youngest, and someone of whom Lek is very protective. Woon was born with a heart defect and is in need of a transplant. The good news is that they found a potential donor, a 12-year old boy who has been in a coma and was just pronounced brain-dead. And they showed the boy in his hospital bed. Again, not something you would see in a kid's movie from Hollywood. Hell, I don't think you would see it in many adult dramas here.

With all this grim news, the four kids want to do something for Woon and are trying to buy him a remote control car of his own. However, without enough money, they try to scam a potential Japanese student and get into a fight with an American student. With the help of Jib, they are able to get the car. After celebrating his birthday, it is off to the track. His first race doesn't go so well and ends with some bullies chasing him and his friends around. While they can defend themselves, the stress is too much for his heart and he winds up in the hospital. At least the donor heart is available. Unfortunately, the hospital where it is was taken over by terrorists.

Terrorists? In a kid's movie? Really?

For the last half of the film, Cat, Woot, Pong, and Jib must try and get into hospital and get the heart before it is too late.

There is a lot of talent behind this film. For instance, the girl that plays Cat, Sasisa Jindamanee, was also in Born to Fight and more recently she was in Somtum with Nawarat Techarathanaprasert, who played Jib in this movie. Johnny Nguyen plays the terrorist leader and his credits include Tom yum goong, The Rebel, as well as stunt work in Serenity, Spider-man 2, and many other. The writers' credits include Chocolate and Tom yum goong, while the producers helped make those two movies, as well as, Ong-Bak and a few other movies that I've reviewed. So there's a huge amount of talent on both sides of the camera.

That said, this movie is a bit of a mess. In tone it just doesn't feel like a kids movie, as these rarely involve organ donation or terrorism and I can't think of any other kids movie that I've seen that has both. Also, as you would expect for a martial arts movie, there is a lot of violence, and not just of the martial variety. If it was just the four kids using Muay Thai on the bad guys, it would still be fine for this type of film. (As long as the fighting was bloodless, which is it not.) However, there are also a lot of guns and explosions as well and that's not as kid friendly. Additionally, there is also some swearing, which again is not what you would expect with a young target demographic. On the other hand, it is definitely a kid's movie in a lot of ways, from the overly broad acting, to the idiotic adults, etc. It's a shame that the film is so inconsistent like this, because there are a number of cool fight scenes with the talented young cast that are mostly wasted as a result.

Extras on the DVD include a nine-minute making of featurette and a four-minute behind-the-scenes segment. That's not much, but that's to be expected for an import like this. The Blu-ray has no additional extras, but costs less than 25% more, so it is an acceptable premium. As for its technical presentation, it is mixed, to say the least. The film is a low-budget affair from Thailand and it looks like it. The image lacks detail, the black levels are weak, the colors don't pop, etc. The audio is slightly better and some of the action scenes to make good use of the surround sound speakers. That said, it's just barely average.

The Verdict

Power Kids is a strange movie that has a few elements that will turn off adults looking for a good martial arts movie, but it also has too much violence, blood, and heavy drama for kids. It is worth checking out for fans of the genre, while the Blu-ray is a better value than the DVD.

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