Born to Fight

Director: Panna Rittikrai
Year: 2004
Starring: Choupong Changprung, Piyapong Piew-on (footballer), Amornthep Waewsang (gymnast), Suebsak Pansueb (takraw)
Time: ?

For fans of old fashioned black and blue non-wire/non-CGI action this latest Thai follow up to Ong Bak (the action choreographer of that film directs this one) for the "Are they Insane?" sweepstakes is an action junkies wet dream. It doesn't have the amazing Tony Jaa but it makes up for his absence by just revving it up a few notches and having many more people risk their mortal lives. The main protagonist - Choupong Changprung - isn't quite up to Jaa's action level either - or perhaps they just didn't give him a set piece like Jaa's chase through the streets of Bangkok to show it - but he is still as close to amazing as we will see these days. Where the film really punts your stomach into your throat though are the stunts which just plain and simple should be against the law but aren't we glad they are not!

The scariest stunt may have been the one in which a fellow is knocked off a truck and his head literally misses being crushed by a following truck by millimeters - but there are many other incredible bits as well. In the end credits some of these stunts are shown being practiced and then the real thing - they really should have something to the effect saying "we didn't want to damage dummies so we used real humans beings instead". Their crazy stunts are just amazing and like the old Jackie Chan films they are shown a few times from different angles just so the audience knows this isn’t CGI – this is the real deal.

The story like Ong Bak is about as basic 80's action as you can get and at least 80% of the running time must be taken up by action scenes. A drug lord is captured - during which a village is completely destroyed by a runaway truck - by a young cop. Afterwards the cop (Choupong Changprung) decides to go along with his sister to visit a small village in the notheast where she and other Thai athletes are giving away food and presents. And wouldn't you know it but the village is taken hostage by the drug lord's main henchman and about 100 of his followers and they demand his release. Oh and they have a nuclear weapon aimed at Bangkok.

Instead of our heroic cop doing a Bruce Willis Die Hard as I fully expected though, the entire village down to the children turn on their captors and all hell breaks out for about 40 minutes of maiming, killing and other assorted acts of destruction. The athletes are played by well-known Thai athletes and they use their skills – soccer, rugby and gymnast – to fight back. The gymnast (Amornthep Waewsang) does some astonishing flips and somersaults usually with some bad guys head at the receiving end. This isn't quite the same kick as Ong Bak was in seeing Jaa simply blow your mind with his physical skills and Muay Thai ability, but this admittedly somewhat crude and super patriotic (the up until then docile villagers decide to rebel when the national anthem plays on the radio) was a hell of a lot of brutal fun. Keep small children far away from this one.

For an article on the director, check out this page.

My rating for this film: 7.5