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Born to Fight
  |     review    |     availability     |

Region 1 NTSC
Dragon Dynasty
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Thai Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English Subtitles

Year: 2004
Director: Panna Rittikrai
Producer: Prachya Pinkaew, Sukanya Vongsthapat
Writer: Morakat Kaewthanek, Panna Rittikrai, Thanapat Taweesuk
Action: Panna Rittikrai, Banlu Srisaeng
Cast: Chupong Changprung, Nappon Gomarachun, Santisuk Promsiri, Piyapong Piew-on, Somrak Khamsing, Amornthep Waewsang, Suebsak Pansueb, Nantaway Wongwanichislip, Kessarin Ektawatkul, Rattaporn Khemtong, Chatthapong Pantanaunkul, Sasisa Jindamanee, Payong Mounda
The Skinny: Full of jingoistic posturing, cardboard characters, and bad acting, Born to Fight will test your tolerance for action filmmaking at the expense of everything else. The stuntwork and creative action nearly redeem things, but this is one case where good action may not be enough.
by Kozo:

     Ong-Bak unleashed a megaton bomb on the action cinema scene, and Born to Fight is right there to capitalize on it. Produced by Ong-Bak director Prachya Pinkaew, Born to Fight is directed by Panna Rittikrai, fight choreographer for Ong-Bak, and a man who knows his stuntwork. Born to Fight is loaded with obviously staged, but jaw-dropping stunts, as well as some creative action. With a decent enough story, Born to Fight could be a quality motion picture. Sadly, that doesn't happen; Born to Fight possesses a clichéd and questionably tasteful story highlighted by a ridiculous nuclear threat and the death of plenty of nameless innocents. Would it be too much to ask for a semi-decent script out of a Thai action movie?
     The film opens with high-kicking cop Daew (Chupong Changprung) taking down the villainous General Yang, who deals in drugsand guns, and is generally disagreeable. Still, the bust took out Daew's partner, leaving him a depressed mess. To recuperate, Daew accompanies his Tae Kwon Do-practicing sister and a bunch of athletes on a mercy mission to a rural village. Bad idea; General Yang's paramilitary gang shows up and decides to hold the village hostage. The deal: release General Yang or they'll kill the village AND launch a nuke at Bangkok.
     Unfortunately, these bastards are so incredibly evil that they plan on launching the nuke and killing everyone anyway. Good thing Daew and the athletes are on the job. While Daew uses his martial arts and gunplay skills to take down the baddies, the athletes use whatever physical skills they have, including gymnastic ass-kicking, rugby knockdowns, and football (AKA soccer) projectile-flinging to rout the bad guys and save the day. Meanwhile, the bad guys slaughter an untold amount of villagers, who seem to respawn like cannon fodder in a video game. If a bodycount of innocent deaths appeared onscreen it might be only slightly less disturbing.
     Basically, Born to Fight asks the question: how much crap is good action worth? Born to Fight taxes the silliness meter in ways even Ong-Bak or Tom Yum Goong did not. The paramilitary baddies manage to beam crystal-clear images of their village slaughter all over Thailand using equipment off the back of a truck. The athletic good guys use football skills to take down a guy within arm's reach when a simple punch probably would have worked. Also, the large amount of dead innocents borders on tasteless. Sure, the good guys do kick ass in intricately choreographed and creative ways, but it's hard to get too excited when those same good guys are crawling over a mountain of their dead friends and relatives. Some restraint from the filmmakers would have been nice.
     Even more negative stuff: transparent screenwriting. Every character has a "moment" with another character prior to the bad guys showing up. Ergo, these characters will find and connect with the same characters during the massive village battle that ends the film. Presumably, this is supposed to be touching. The actors are either uninteresting or annoying, and the situations are so hackneyed that being affected by what happens practically qualifies as some sort of con. The good guys eventually find the strength to rise up, thanks to a go-getter nationalist speech by Daew right before the bad guys are about to win the day. The intent is inspirational, but the execution is not. If you got an unsubtitled Thai DVD of this film, you're not missing all that much.
     Ultimately, the only thing that can save Born to Fight is the action and stuntwork, and it nearly does. For painful looking stuntwork, Born to Fight is hard to top. People fall off vehicles, get flung far distances, and get hit by flaming logs with pronounced glee. Anyone who dug the mid-eighties Jackie Chan films should get a kick out of the punishment these stuntmen take. The action possesses enough athletic power and cool creativity to entertain. The overuse of gymastic routines and sports moves as martial arts can be quite cheesy, but those looking for an action fix may be all-too-willing to tune out the film's exceptional silliness. If you pick up this movie, here's hoping that you're one of them. Unfortunately, I wasn't. (Kozo 2005)

 Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen