Pii Hua Kaad 2
Reviewed by Simon Booth
Director: Kromsan Tripong
Starring: Thua Rae Chernyim, Der Doksadao,
Time: 105 minutes
2003's PII HUA KAAD was one of the surprises
of the year, being a comedy-horror from Thailand that didn't suck.
In fact, it was rather good, thanks to a decent story, promising young
male lead, good production values and some inventive special effects.
Perhaps because it kept the comedy in the background too. If you've
seen the film, you may be a little surprised that it's spawned a sequel,
since the plot didn't naturally suggest one. The sequel is pretty
much a "name-only" sequel as it happens though, and it eschews pretty much
all the things I listed as virtues in the first film in favour of... well,
not having them, basically :(
The first PII HUA KAAD didn't exactly have the
tightest scripting, but this helped to keep the film fresh and interesting
as it went in sometimes surprising directions. PHK2 also does not
scripting, but rather than "unexpected and
interesting", it wanders rather close to "incoherent" in this film.
The overall story just about hangs together, though due to some bad editing
it takes more brain-power than necessary to realise that it's actually
a very inane tale. Strangely, the ending credits include clips from
a bunch of deleted scenes, some of which would seemingly have really helped
to make the story flow better and make sense. Perhaps their removal
was a deliberate attempt to obscure the fact it wasn't very interesting.
If those scenes had been replaced with quirky,
inventive or amusing scenes it might have been a wise decision, but the
bulk of the film consists of really dull humour involving stupid people
doing stupid things. I'm not sure where the idea originated that
giving the hero a really annoying, stupid, cowardly best friend and sidekick
would make him seem more heroic in comparison... but I wish it would go
away. And transvestite side characters who bear the brunt of some stereotyping
and bigotry for comic effect then die unpleasantly aren't exactly welcome
anymore either. Some of the comedy is undoubtedly lost in translation,
but there are plenty of scenes that don't rely on verbal humour, and none
of them are funny, so I don't really expect the wordplay is very amusing
either, even if you do speak the language. The soundtrack composer
tries overly hard to convince you you're being amused, which isn't a good
sign. Or soundtrack :p
Maybe I'm being unfair to the film, and it just
caught me in the wrong mood - or it suffered due to high expectations from
the first film (which in turn probably benefited from low expectations
when I watched it), but I don't think I am - I think Pii Hua Kaad 2 is
genuinely a poor film. It is a little better than the bulk of the
"horror comedy" films from Thailand, but that's not really saying much
given that most of them are unwatchable :P PHK2 at least has decent
production values and is just about watchable, though I don't think I'd
go so far as to say "enjoyable".
BTW, Pii Hua Kaad has acquired an official
English translation for its second cinematic outing. The literal
translation is apparently "Headless Ghost", which makes sense for both
films, but the official English name is now "Headless Hero (2)".
Unfortunately, this translation proves to be completely inappropriate for
the second film... the only headless guy here is definitely not the hero.