Reviewed by Simon Booth
Stars: Watchara TungkaPrasert, Archariya BuaSuwan.
Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Ouch... my brain hurts. Why? Because
I've just watched Goodman Town, and tried my level best to follow the plot...
no easy task! To call it "convoluted" would be kind - messy" would
be more fair, I think. If you're planning to watch it, I'd recommend
reading this synopsis first to prepare:
The year is future, and the time is post apocalypse.
The world has been reduced to Mad Max style banditry and rule of the gun,
with the remaining population gathered together in small groups and dressed
in "out of the garbage can" fashions. One place that's relatively
thrived is Goodman Town... that is, until bandit Tiger Yai takes over the
town and displaces the population. The refugees set up Dark Commune, and
seek to reclaim
Goodman Town as their own. They hatch a plan
to tunnel under the town, but it will take them some time. To buy time,
they send a fortuneteller to Tiger Yai and tell him he must marry in 4
days or die. Tiger Yai buys this story and sends his men off to find
his wife - who can be identified by a birthmark on her chest.
Meanwhile, a famous hero called Mr. Climax has
been wandering around amnesiac since he was betrayed by 4 famous killers,
quite having forgotten what his wife looks like. In fact, his wife
looks exactly like the daughter of the chief of Dark Commune (it took me
an hour to figure this crucial plot point out, and realise the very cute
actress was playing two characters). And, as luck would have it, she's
the one that Tiger Yai has to find and marry.
That should be enough to make sense of most
of what happens, if and when it's supposed to make sense... and that's
certainly not all the time, because Goodman Town is a very *silly* movie.
It's an Action Comedy (it says so on the DVD case, so I know), featuring
some really silly and often dumb comedy... lots of slapstick and
goofiness. It's vaguely reminiscent of pBob - Body Jumper's puerile
humour, but not quite as genuinely funny - or maybe it lost more in the
translation? Actually it probably lost a lot because of the
terrible acting displayed by most of the cast :)
So it probably sounds like I didn't enjoy the
film... not so, in fact :) Although it has several gaping flaws, it's quite
entertaining and fun to watch. The characters are colourful, and
the apocalyptic world quite well conveyed in a low-budget way. Also,
the film is very stylishly filmed and edited - I'm guessing the director
probably has a music video background, given the relative measures of style
versus narrative coherency. There's some really nice camera
work, and in particular there's some stylishly filmed action. The
film definitely fits the "Action Comedy" description on the box, as it's
relatively chock full of cool action scenes.
There's lots of gunplay, some huge explosions
and a fair amount of cool posing. The largest portion of this comes
in the finale, naturally, which runs a good 20 minutes or so and features
more bullets and explosions than most of John Woo's career. Technically,
the lack of experience of both cast and crew is evident - but so is their
enthusiasm, and certainly no effort was spared in bringing some classy
carnage to the screen.
I certainly can't claim that Goodman Town is a
great film... the flaws are numerous and large, but it has quite a lot
going for it as well. It's fun, stylish and quite creative - just
not very well directed and very badly acted. There are some decent special
effects and some cute girls (and boys), and lots of action though, which
is good enough for a popcorn movie. Not one we're likely to see get
wide international distribution though.
Which means, most people are going to have to
go to the Thai DVD if they want to see the film. The Mangpong release
is below average even for a (recent) Thai film - non anamorphic widescreen
picture from a reasonably clean print, with English subtitles burnt into
the image (optional Thai subtitles can be displayed above these, taking
up half the image with text, with most readers of this review won't require
those I presume). The picture quality is acceptable, but the
DVD features an absolutely terrible 5.1 sound mix - really thin, weak and
unbalanced. Thankfully a stereo Thai track is provided as well, and
this sounds much better.
Certainly not essential viewing, but quite
fun and unique. 7/10