Bangkok Revenge

Director:  Jean-Marc Minéo
Year: 2011
Rating: 6.0
Country: Thailand

There are a lot of talented martial artists out there but I am still surprised when I come across someone that I have never heard of and who didn't really seem to go on to much after the film I saw him in. Jon Foo is the star of this film and his martial arts talent is very evident in this action packed film. All the usual offensive and defensive stances and acrobatic moves displayed here in oodles. Admittedly, his acting talent seems limited but has that ever been a stumbling block to other martial artists turned actors? Not really. Are they just not making that many of those low budget high octane films any more? Were the likes of Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Cynthia Rothrock never replaced? This film actually is produced by France with director Jean-Marc Minéo at the helm. He is an interesting case himself - studied in a Shaolin Temple for two years and became six times champion of France, European champion and finally world champion of Kung Fu. I would guess he was behind the action choreography as well which is great fun, hard hitting and bone breaking. Foo did go on to a TV series that lasted for a year based on Rush Hour - never heard of that either but might be worth tracking down.

Though a French production it takes place in Bangkok, most of the actors are Thai (and all of the stunt men) and most of the dialogue is in Thai - but oddly not all. It has your basic revenge plot - you killed my family; now it is my turn to kill you. With a tiny twist. The film opens with three gunmen entering a bedroom and gunning down the man and woman. And then after the young boy rips off one of their masks, he is shot in the head. But miraculously survives and a nurse sneaks him out of the hospital when she realizes they are trying to kill him. She takes him to a Chinese medicine healer - and it turns out a kung fu master. Manit grows up, is trained and set loose on the world to get revenge. The bullet had two interesting side effects - he can feel no empathy and he speaks English in an English accent. Since Jon Foo is from England, this is their excuse language wise and acting wise too. Whenever people keep asking him why he is speaking English, he replies it is a long story - like I was born in England and don't have a clue how to speak Thai.

From that point on the film turns into an action bonanza - a lot of action scenes all over Bangkok - one against this lesbian girl gang called the Hyenas - who are colorful and cruel - one has a little girl and we see her practicing her kicks against what we assume is a bag - so cute - but then the camera pulls back and we realize it is a tied up person she is kicking. Mom calls out - do your homework - ah mom do I have to. There is a lengthy action set piece that moves all over Bangkok - even on the Skytrain that feels influenced by the film The Warriors, when every gang in Bangkok gets the word to find him and kill him and it is one fight after another.

For me this was fun once it gets going - forget the acting, the too often tread plot, the banal dialogue, the absurdity of still looking for this kid 20 years later - and just watch some very nice choreography. Don't be put off at the beginning when the first action scene is shot with a distorted lens and the third we only see the silhouettes against a wall - once that artistic need is out of the director's system - it is all bang bang bang with so many broken bones that the doctors will have a field day.