BKO: Bangkok Knockout
Year of release: 2010
Genre: martial arts
Directors: Panna Rittikrai, Morakot Kaewthanee
Action directors: Panna Rittikrai, Thana Srisook
Producers: Thanapon Maliwan, Chokchai Ptchpunna, Russell Wong
Writers: Dojit Hongthong, Jonathon Siminoe
Cinematography: Pipat Payakka, Nonthakon Tayesuk
Editing: Saravut Nakajud, Nonthakon Tayesuk
Music: Terosak Janpan
Stars: Supasorn Chaimonkol, Sorapong Chatree, Kerttisak Udomnak, Kazu Patrick Tang, Speedy Arnold
Rated R for violence and language
Movie Review Index
Are you in the mood for a film that expresses the trials and tribulations of humanity as expressed via deep soliloquies that inspire meaningful contemplation? Well, then, BKO: Bangkok Knockout is not really the movie for you. Made by people and for people that can and regularly do non-ironically enjoy the sublime delight a well-placed series of kicks to the head can bring, BKO is a martial arts extravaganza that should not be missed by any serious action film fan.
The setup here is pretty simple. Basically, a group of young stunt people wakes up after a night of celebrating getting a Hollywood contract to find themselves part of an underground gambling ring, where the outcome of the fights they encounter is bet on by a nefarious group. This rudimentary plot seems to take too long (around thirty minutes) to establish itself, as the first act plods along with nary a knee to the groin to be had. But once the pieces are in place, it's on like Donkey Kong. For the next seventy minutes, viewers are going to be treated to all sort of manner of martial arts shenanigans.
Some of the stuff featured here falls on the silly side, such as a Jason Voorhees-inspired antagonist who shares the slasher king's love of masks, sharp implements, and seeming invincibility. Also, the random Mad Max-style armored car attempting to kill our heroes by apparently doing really bitchin' drifts generates unintentional laughs, rather than thrills. It should also probably be noted that the acting is simply not very good, with most of the thespianism falling on the "reading cue cards" end of the spectrum.
But when BKO focuses on gimmick-free fighting, the results are fabulous. Hong Kong action movie fans who are tired of the current wave of Mainland-friendly costume epics have been looking to other areas to get their kinetic fix, and movies like BKO are a prime reason why Thailand has been generating a lot of attention as a new area to gaze towards for the best in action cinema.
Much like many of the classic action films from Hong Kong's "golden age" from the mid-1980's to mid-1990's, every other cinematic idea is put aside here for portraying scenes of hard-hitting balls-out grab the first aid kit martial arts spectacles. There is nothing fancy or glossed over about BKO at all. It is simply a damn fine action film that doesn't need to depend on star power or a big budget to deliver excitement to the audience. In this summer season of overblown and overhyped Hollywood "blockbusters" that for the most part underwhelm and underdeliver, seeing a film like BKO was truly a breath of fresh air.