Bang Rajan: Legend of the Village
Director: Thanit Jitnukul
Starring: Winai Kraibutr, Bin Bunluerit, Jaran
Ngamdee, Chumphorn Thepphithak, Bongkot Kongmalai
Time: 119 minutes
The year is 1765 and once again the Burmese
Kingdom to the west is invading Thailand. The overwhelming Burmese force
is descending from the north heading for the capital of Ayothaya and only
the small nearly unnoticeable rural village of Bang Rajan lies in its way
of victory. The people of Bang Rajan pick up their cleavers, their swords,
their farm implements, their bows and arrows and stop the Burmese in their
tracks for five long and bloody weeks before they are defeated. To the
Thais this is their Alamo a tale full of valor and the ultimate sacrifice
from the men and women of Bang Rajan for the love of their country. It
is stirring, ferocious and delivers an accumulated emotional wallop that
will leave you saddened and stunned.
It is an epic film in its ambition and its themes.
It has often been compared to Braveheart but it has twice the masculinity
and three times the action. Where Braveheart may score points though is
that it focuses on one man and thus engenders a great deal of sympathy
for his character, while Bang Rajan disburses its story among a number
of the villagers and thus is unable to make the characters much more than
stereotypes. This appears to have troubled a number of reviewers, but seemed
unimportant to me its the collective story, the collective heroism and
the collective tragedy that matters here and by the final balls to the
wall charge it had ripped a huge hole in my stomach.
The action is extremely graphic and brutal much
of it done with razor sharp cleavers and rarely does more than a short
time go by without someone losing their head. There are a number of smaller
stories that unfold as well the drunk who finds redemption, a romance
blooms among the killing and the deep love of a woman for her husband and
is at his side in the final charge.
Neither the Thai DVD or VCD has English subs
(I saw it at a film festival).
My rating for this film: 8.0