Reviewed by Simon Booth
Director: Numchok Dangput
Cast: Chakid Yamnarmm, Darawal Vilaiharm
Yaowarat is a small district in Bangkok that
is the city's Chinatown.
Yaowarat the film is set in this district, telling the story of a small
war between two Triad gangs. Saleng and Kao-Lod are young gangsters working
for different triads, and with quite opposite temperaments. Saleng
is quiet and reserved, principled and honourable. Kao-Lod is loud-mouthed,
brash and arrogant. His trouble-making in the brothels and casinos
in Saleng's district cause the two Triad groups to come into conflict,
in which Saleng inevitably gets caught up. Saleng's life is further complicated
when his sado-masochistic boss takes on a new and beautiful wife, and Saleng
is given the job of bodyguard.
Yaowarat is not an original film, simply drawing
common elements from gangster films of the past and weaving them into an
uncomplicated story. It's strengths are some nice visuals and mostly
good acting from the cast. I don't think the film-makers had any
particular desire to create a ground-breaking work of art, just to pay
homage to the gangster films they enjoyed, in a form that the audience
wouldn't mind watching for 90 minutes. These unambitious goals
are met, but not too much more.
The actors playing Saleng and Kao-Lod both make
their characters believable, and somewhat memorable. Saleng's quiet
demeanour will certainly earn him more affection from the viewer, but Kao-Lod's
over-the-top manners will probably be remembered longer, and the actor
makes his character as unlikeable as he's meant to be. The ice-cold
number one wife of Saleng's boss is likely to leave an impression too.
The DVD case implied a higher degree of "explosive
action" than the film actually provides – there are only a few scenes of
short, violent gunplay throughout. There is one piece of imaginative
revenge that is bound to cause a few winces though! It's more drama
than action film though, with just enough gritty violence to make the film's
point ("A gangster's life sucks, consider Buddhism", in a nutshell). Yaowarat
is ultimately a passable diversion, but not something you're going to be
raving to friends and family about afterwards. It's worth seeing
if you're in the mood, but your life will not be drastically better for
it, or drastically worse if you never do.