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Thai Martial Arts Films Storm into the Industry

  18 June 2005   
  All Rights Reserved.
 

The domestic and international successes of the 2003 Muay Thai flick Ong Bak are setting off explosions of Thai martial arts, a changing trend of popular genres in Thai cinema from the nationalistic epics, comic transvestites and scary horror.

One of the most anticipated movies of 2005 is a kickboxing film Tom Yum Goong, which reunites all of Ong Baks elements of success: action star Tony Jaa, director Prachya Pinkaew, and stunt choreographer Panna Rittikrai. Mr Jaa fights stereotypical enemies that include a Chinese killer, an Australian wrestler, and a Vietnamese American stuntman. Tom Yum Goong is set to be another smash hit of the year with its planned premiere in the Cannes market next week and released in Asia in August.

Following Tom Yum Goong, this triumvirate of action blockbusters has planned to thrill the audience with two more martial arts epics: Phraya Phichai Dab Hak (aka Sword) and Nai Thongdee Fun Khao. Based on actual heroes in Thai history, both films will incorporate traditional Thai sword fighting in the style of Zhang Yimous Hero.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com  


Choophong Changprung, aka Dan Choophong, Mr. Jaas protege who made his name in Mr. Pannas 2004 directorial debut Born to Fight, will team up with director Chalerm Wongphim (Street Fighter, 2002, and Street Fighter 2, 2005) for a remake of Tabanfai Talaiphlerng. Its new version will highlight the old style of Thai action in a modern way.

Dan was also reported to star in The Queens of Pattani, the work of the man who led the change of Thai film industry Nonzee Nimibutr. The movie will be made into two series, in which Dan will take the major role.

Sword fighting will be featured in another martial arts film in production, Sword & Spirit, which is slated to be released in 2006. Leading actors Assanee Suwan (Beautiful Boxer, 2003) and Pitisak Yaowananond (I - Fak, 2004) are currently undergoing strenuous training in this traditional martial arts form. Beautiful Boxers director, Ekachai Uekrongtham, who recently just won an award from Hong Kong-Asia Film Financing award from another movie The Coffin, will take the directing helm.

Actresses will have their shares of leading roles in this action genre as well. Currently in theatrical release is the latest work by Goal Clubs director Kittikorn Leosakul, The Bullet Wives, in which many of Thailand s top models and beautiful actresses face each other off in the first-wives-versus-mistresses battle that blends reckless gun shootings with sexy tango steps.

Two other projects in production are known to follow a similar plot. Director Poj Arnon (Spicy Beauty Queen, 2004) is planning an action comedy in the style of Charlies Angels entitled Chailai - Iron Pedals with a cast of popular folk singer Jintara Poonlab, and sexy model Bongkot Kongmalai. Meanwhile, Worawit Phong-in, the son of a famous comedian-cum-director Note Chernyim (The Holy Man, 2005), will co-direct a female gangster flick Bangkok Jone (literally mean Bangkok Thieves) with his friends Worawut Chuanyoo, Sophon Nim-anong, and Patipan Khotchasan.

Veteran director Manop Udomdej, is trying his new project on a woman action fantasy Vanquisher. In here, a half angel, half slayer Mayulin Ulai is summoned to stop the Ice Man and free Bangkok from his frozen grip.

Child actress in Born to Fight
Vanquisher

Like actresses, kids will have their own action movies too. Two child stars of Born to Fight are reportedly in training for a child action film under supervision of Ong Baks team and to be directed by Mr. Pannas fellow stunt choreographer.

Without a doubt, these directors hope to repeat the success of Ong Bak. Whether or not this goal is achieved may depend on the longevity of the popularity of this action genre among the Thai audience. In other words, we can only wait and see.

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