7 Pra Chan Ban (Heavenís Seven)

Reviewed by Simon Booth

Director: Chalerm Wongpim
Year: 2002
Starring: Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Theng Therdtherng, Ummarin Nitipon
Time: 1 hr 51 minutes

Heaven's Seven aka 7 Prachabaan aka 7 Pra Chan Ban aka 7 pra-jan-barn is a new movie from Thailand, billed an "action comedy" with a seemingly high budget that's bought some explosive action and some special effects that are quite good, in a bad sort of way (or bad in a good sort of way). Since I'm probably one of the first westerners to have seen the movie I probably should write a long detailed review, but there doesn't seem much point since I'm just going to conclude that it's not a very good movie and you'd be wasting your time trying to see it.

The movie takes a Kelly's Heroes kind of plot where 7 inept soldiers have to transcend their failings when they get mixed up in a plot by American soldiers to bury napalm on Thai soil, and totally mismanage it. It tries to introduce way too many characters and fails to develop any of them. The story has no narrative structure and fails to create any real interest. Quite a lot of effort has been put into the action sequences, but they're still well below the quality of a Hollywood or Hong Kong action movie.
Some of the special effects are pretty good, but they seriously overstretch themselves in the finale and look silly as a result. The comedy either doesn't translate well or simply isn't very funny (on the subject of translation, I don't know how accurately the use of the word fuck in every other sentence in the subtitles reflects the Thai, but it sounds kind of like the subtitler was just seeing how much swearing he could get away with when nobody else speaking English was likely to see the film).
It's always nice to see Americans as bad guys once in a while, but the movie fails to really convince that soldiers secretly burying napalm are any worse than the generally treacherous and mean spirited Thai soldiers that are meant to be the heroes. The American actors in the cast are also much bigger, butcher and meaner looking than any of the Thai cast, making it totally implausible that they'd lose the fight. Well, I guess I already wrote more than I meant to. Really the movie's not very good though, and I don't recommend exerting any effort whatsoever to see it.

Reviewed by Brian

Most of the time I find myself in agreement with Simon's opinions on the Thai films we have both seen, but I have to admit to rather enjoying this somewhat lunatic film that mixes spitballs of action, sentimentality and a comic irreverance. It's certainly miles from being a classic and perhaps not even being good, but it has a spasmodic goofiness and style that often brought a wry smile to my face. For those that may have enjoyed Killer Tattoo, this film has a similar spirit that is also fast paced if not always logical and has a big bang ending that seems to go on forever. The fellow who played Elvis in Killer Tattoo has a role here as well.

It takes place during the Vietnam war and a group of ex-Thai soldiers who fought there are hired to steal a truckload of treasure from the American military. It turns out though that the rotten Americans are actually burying napalm in Thailand and after the Seven steal a truck load of it, the Americans send a platoon of nasty killers after them to get it back. It is sort of fun seeing the American military portrayed as the very bad guys and to see how another country can look at things very differently than we do here in the States. Not that this is a political treatise - it is basically just a lot of silliness, but one that clearly was meant to make the Thai audiences feel pretty good about their boys kicking some American butt.

The Thai DVD has English subtitles.

My rating for this films: 6.0