Reviewed by Simon Booth
Director: Paitoon Ratanon
Starring: Panutat Rattanatrai, Shinta Sitthikul, Boonthida Nakajareon
Time: 123 minutes
After watching the wonderful Ong Bak I was quite in the mood for some more Muay Thai action, and as look would have it I had another DVD lying around that promised some - "Muay Thai - Nai Khanom Tom" (roughly translated as "Muay Thai - Something" )). MT-NKT tells the story of a guy who gets beaten up by local fighters, and manages to persuade a mysterious long haired man to teach him to fight. Once he's learnt some skills he decides to go off to a forest that may or may not be home to "Bang Rajan" and learn more skills to fight off the invading Burmese.
MT-NKT was clearly made in the aftermath of Ong Bak and Bang Rajan, and attempts to combine the strengths of the two into a strong Muay Thai historical epic. Except, on 1/100th of the budget of either. More than just budget is lacking, in fact - all forms of talent and experience in the art of filmmaking are also curiously absent. The film manages to go beyond "amateurish", to the point where one is led to speculate whether we are witnessing an alien invasion, by a species that caught extraterrestrial transmissions of Ong Bak and Bang Rajan and concluded that the Thai film industry was the centre of the world's power base. The aliens, it appears, have the technology to replicate our bodies almost perfectly, but they don't understand our ways of making film at all.
Still, since Muay Thai action was what I was really looking for, their skills do somewhat compensate for their weaknesses. There are some fight scenes featuring the same kind of bone crunching full contact Muay Thai that made Ong Bak so compelling - but the fighters are clearly more trained for real Muay Thai competition, so there's none of the stunning acrobatics and stunts that Phanom Yeeram pulls off in Ong Bak - just people hitting and kicking each other quite hard. That would be good enough for a time passer, but the film commits one further huge mistake - it tries to incorporate sword fights too. The sword fighting is so bad it's quite comical - they can't do the full contact stuff, so it's really just a lot of waving swords around each other, filmed in a totally unflattering manner. Unfortunately, these dreadful sword fights make up at least 50% of the fight scenes. Muay Thai good, sword fights baaaaad.
Film Rating: 4/10