For action movie junkies, there always seems to be a film floating around that is the current "go to" flick. Currently, the picture to see seems to be the Thai production Chocolate. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the man behind Ong Bak and Tom Yung Goong, and starring martial arts wunderkind Yanin "Jija" Vismitananda, the early clips and subsequent trailer for Chocolate set the internets abuzz. Thankfully, the movie lives up to the hype, and, in fact, surpasses it. In a perfect world, this is really the sort of stuff more martial arts movies should be.
In Chocolate, Jija plays Zen, a young autistic girl who has been raised by her mother, Zin (Ammara Siripong), who uses candy and kung fu movies to calm Zen down. When Zin is diagnosed with cancer, Zen teams up with her cousin Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) to go after the shady characters in Zin's past in order to pay off the mounting medical bills. This doesn't please the local crime boss, Number 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong), who is still stinging from the fact that he lost Zin's affections to Zen's father, a Yakuza named Masashi (Hiroshi Abe).
On the surface, Chocolate's story doesn't seem to hold much water, and the fact that Zen is autistic might come off like a cheap gimmick. But Prachya Pinkaew manages to create a compelling tale, which gives the action scenes all that much more impact. A lot of the credit for this is due to Jija's performance, which is incredibly nuanced and quite touching in parts. It wouldn't feel out of place in a "serious" dramatic movie, and the fact that it's in what, for most intents and purposes, is usually a throwaway element in most action/martial arts pictures makes it stand out all that much more.
Of course, all this talk of story and acting would be all for naught in an action movie if the fisticuffs weren't up to snuff. Well, dear readers, don't worry. The fight scenes in Chocolate are top-notch stuff. Sure, some of the set pieces, like a dust-up held at an ince factory ala The Big Boss, come off as a bit gimmicky, and the film doesn't quite live up to the promises of "no doubles, no wires, no CGI" with some obvious tweaking present.
But if you can watch the action scenes contained here and not let out at least one "hell yeah" during the proceedings, then please make sure your Medic Alert bracelet is working, because obviously you've fallen and can't get up, and are pretty close to being clinically dead. Chocolate is pure fun from beginning to end, and is mandatory viewing material for any martial arts movie fan.
If you're looking for a lot of extras, Magnet's DVD may be a bit disappointing, with the only additions being several trailers for other Magnet releases and a short making-of featurette. But the movie itself is presented well, with a crisp picture presented in anamorphic widescreen. The soundtrack, which can be listened to in Dolby 2.0 or 5.1, is presented in either the original Thai, or a tolerable English dub. If you choose, as you should, to check out the movie in Thai, the subtitles are clear, easy to read, and are free of grammatical errors.
Overall, this is a worthy way to check out the film, especially when compared to the other foreign versions that have been released, some of which have had questionable quality. The DVD is available at Amazon. For those of you with out there with one of those fancy-schmansy Blu-Ray players, Amazon also has you covered with that version.
Movie Reviews / Main Page