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Muay Thai Chaiya
Year: 2007 Muay Thai Chaiya
Akara Amarttayakul
Director: Kongkiat Komesiri
Producer: Thanit Jitnulkul
Cast: Akara Amarttayakul, Thawatchai Penpakdee, Sonthaya Chitmanee, Sangthong Ket-U-Tong, Parit Kongpech, Prawit Kittichanthira
The Skinny: Muay Thai-infused variation of a Heroic Bloodshed picture delivers, though in a messy, unpolished fashion. Not a classic, but good for bonecrunching, melodramatic Midnight Movie fare.
Review:      The story of three lifelong friends who journey to the big city only to become persecuted or even corrupted by the bad things men do, Muay Thai Chaiya isn't accomplished cinema, as it's too messy, unpolished, and rah-rah simplistic to truly qualify as quality. Still, there are reasons to recommend this bone-breaking, high-impact melodrama, chief among them the action sequences and the film's admirable attempt at attempting an epic, emotional storyline - something that most Muay Thai movies rarely ever try. For effort, Muay Thai Chaiya gets solid marks.
     The film tells the tale of Piak (Akara Amarttayakul), Pao (Thawatchai Penpakdee), and Samor (Sonthaya Chitmanee), three students of the Muay Thai Chaiya boxing school who head to Bangkok to achieve their dreams, only to find that circumstance, damning compromises, and a pesky love triangle get in the way of lasting friendship. After a series of tough choices and personal mistakes, Piak and Samor find themselves working for seedy gangsters and wallowing in the underground fight circuit, while Pao struggles alone to make it in the ring the honest way. But money and corruption control the matches, and Pao's righteousness may be powerless to combat the sordid factors at play. Ultimately, it may require his former friends' hard-fought redemption to truly make things right.
     Director Kongkiat Komesiri has obviously seen John Woo's Bullet in the Head; not only does Muay Thai Chaiya bear the same general plot, it also possesses an eerily similar harmonica theme. The swiped notes swell whenever the filmmakers wish to signal drama, and the actors overact with sweaty, yet felt abandon. Komesiri and company slop on the sentimentality with an industrial-sized spatula; this is a melodramatic, overwrought, and hyperemotional film, and the whole can alienate due to its incredibly thick sentimentality. IT ALL GOES TO HELL would be an appropriate way to describe the plot of this film, and the filmmakers drive their melodramatic intentions home with exceptional force. It's possible that after the umpteenth overemotional display or harmonica warble, one could throw up their hands at the sheer manipulation of it all.
     But these are clichés that work. Komesiri and company may have swiped their music, but the overall formula works better than the multiple Ong Bak variations one usually sees emerge out of Thailand. Muay Thai Chaiya is far from a subtle film, and lacks the elegance of the better Heroic Bloodshed films, making some curious, distracting choices that prove more laughable than compelling. But blood, honor, and righteousness are manly themes that always have a place in cinema, and even though Muay Thai Chaiya chooses to deliver those themes with the subtlety of a flying mallet, it undeniably has some ability to affect. And if it doesn't, at least there's the Muay Thai, which comes complete with robust sound design that makes everything sound like twelve limbs snapping at once. Emotional impact or not, Muay Thai Chaiya packs a punch. (Kozo, Reviewed at the Udine Far East Film Festival, 2008)
Availability: DVD (Thailand)
Region 3 PAL
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Thai Language Track
Removable Thai Subtitles

image courtesy of Five Star Production Copyright ©2002-2017 Ross Chen