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  Bangkok Knockout  
Bangkok Knockout

Actors? Who cares about actors? It's all action in Bangkok Knockout.
AKA: BKO: Bangkok Knockout  
Thai: โคตรสู้ โคตรโส  
Year: 2010  
Director: Panna Rittikrai, Morakot Kaewthanee  
Producer: Prachya Pinkaew, Panna Rittikrai, Akarapol Techaratanaprasert  
Writer: Panna Rittikrai, Doojit Hongthong, Jonathan Siminoe  

Chatchapol Apichart, Supaksorn Chaimongkol, Sorapong Chatree, Kiatisak Udomnak, Pimchanok Luewisetpaiboon, Kittisak Outchit, Wirach Khemglud, Poonyapat Boonkoonchanok, Thanawit Wongsuwan, Samred Muangput, Puchong Sartnok, Sarawut Kamsorn, Winai Wiengyangon, Patrick Kazu Tang, Panna Rittikrai, Speedy Arnold

The Skinny: Bangkok Knockout reserves its effort for its stuntwork action sequences while employing clichéd storytelling, bad acting and pretty lousy everything else. Not surprisingly, it works! An action fix, absolutely.  
by Kozo:

A stuntman demo reel dialed up to a punishing eleven, Bangkok Knockout is barrels of adrenaline-fueled fun provided that you don’t care about things like story, acting, coherence or enunciation. From director Panna Rittikrai, longtime Thai action guru and Tony Jaa’s mentor, Bangkok Knockout is about a stunt team called “Fight Club.” As much a family as they are a group of stunt-crazy martial artists, Fight Club gets their big break when they impress cigar-chewing Hollywood producer Mr. Snead, played by actor Speedy Arnold in a performance that challenges most laws of bad acting.

It’s all a lie, though. Fight Club thinks they’re going to work for Jerry Bruckheimer but they’ve actually been enlisted into a Running Man-type contest where they must evade death in a multi-level abandoned building that looks like an under-construction IKEA. Waves of bad guys come after Fight Club as they run in circles through the building, while Mr. Snead and a group of rich bastards watch via CCTV and bet on the frequent showdowns. Amidst the violence, a multitude of stories and themes play out, involving love, honor, friendship, trust and a heartrending examination of the human condition.

Just kidding. Maybe there’s something in Bangkok Knockout that says something universal about people, but if so, the filmmakers put it in there by accident. The film does feature a love triangle among three members of the Fight Club, but it’s perfunctory and as romantic as a dinner at Burger King. Also perfunctory are the clichéd subplots assigned to the largely interchangeable characters. The lack of identification extends to the bad guys; some wear iron masks or fishnet stockings, but for the most part they dress in leather or denim just like our heroes. That means when people are fighting one another, it’s hard to tell who’s who.

Compounding the lack of identification is the fact that the cast is composed mostly of stuntmen, meaning they lack screen charisma if not looks. Aside from the occasional ringer (actress Pimchanok Luevisetpaiboon handles limited action in her supporting role), this is not a GQ bunch. Acting is also below par, though all the stunt players are master thespians compared to the terrible lot who play Snead’s gamblers. These horrendous Z-grade actors perform in English but can’t enunciate to save their lives. Not that the lines they’re uttering are worth listening to, but you’d think someone who worked on this production would have noticed the unfolding horror.

But hey, all this is excusable because Bangkok Knockout has awesome action and stuntwork. People dodge sledge hammers, fall from tremendous heights, get hit by motorcycles and then get back on those same motorcycles to engage in head-on collisions with other motorcycles. Then they get back on the motorcycles again to chase after cars before getting hit by the cars and then running around beneath a moving 18-wheeler. Things don’t happen exactly in that order, but you get the picture. Bangkok Knockout is Tony Jaa’s insane Ong Bak stunt derring-do amped and extended, such that it runs nearly the length of this 90-minute motion picture and makes all the usual requirements of a good movie – acting, logic, interesting characters – completely unnecessary. Panna Rittikrai and company intend to show us something cool and dangerous, and that’s exactly what they do.

An action filmmaker for 25-plus years, Rittikrai again demonstrates that he knows the genre like few do, plus that he usually doesn’t go beyond cliché in getting his action to the screen. There are occasional glimpses of creativity here. Rittikrai himself shows up in a role as a stern tough guy whose Terminator-like invulnerability is only marred by – get this – asthma! One wonders if it’s supposed to be hilarious to see a group of stuntmen crawl all over one guy in order to get at his inhaler, but intentional laughs or not, the sight qualifies as entertainment. Overall, Bangkok Knockout is not a film to be proud of. However, respect for Rittikrai and his stunt performers should never be withheld. (Kozo, Reviewed at the Udine Far East Film Festival, 2011)

Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Thai and English Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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