Born To Fight

Born To Fight


Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Director/co-writer Panna Rittikrai was the action choreographer and co-writer of Ong-Bak and connections between the two films are clear to see.

Born To Fight is a patriotic paean to Thailand's rural values and traditions and, like Ong-Bak, is a punishing action extravaganza whose insane stunts are performed without the assistance of CGI or wires.

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Unfortunately, it repeats the more irksome flaws of Ong-Bak, offering a naive brand of nationalism, somewhere on the border between the annoyingly cloying, the unintentionally hilarious and the downright xenophobic. Also, there is an almost total absence of characterisation and a laughably black-and-white morality, straight out of the Reagan era.

After an explosive shoot out and truck chase, undercover cop Daew (Chupong Changprung) manages to apprehend the drug-running crime lord General Yang (Nappon Gormarachun), but at the cost of his partner and mentor's life. Still upset by the incident, Daew joins his sister and her fellow National Sports Team athletes on a charity mission to a small Thai border village, only to find it taken over by well-armed criminal militiamen who are willing to kill innocent villagers and even nuke central Bangkok in order to get what they want - the release of General Yang. Fortunately, all it takes to galvanise Daew, the villagers and the athletes into action is the sound of Thailand's national anthem, leading to a 30-minute climax of over-the-top street battles and impossible acrobatics.

Fists are seldom connected to brains and, even if Daew and his pals are hardly born to think as well as fight, diehard fans of the action genre are unlikely to be too disappointed by the lack of an engaging storyline or of well-drawn heroes and villains, once they begin drooling over the high-flying footwork and athletic excesses.

What is most striking about Born To Fight is its reflection of a community's deep-seated anxiety about seeing their cultural values taken hostage by drugs, criminality, secularism and foreign invasion, while neither a policy of reversion, nor of escapism, is likely to stem modernity's creeping encroachment on Thailand's traditions. The film's kick-ass finale is merely a fantasy solution to the nation's ills.

At least, Born To Fight acknowledges that there is a problem in the first place by portraying the Thai village as under intense pressure and primed (literally) to explode.

Reviewed on: 10 Sep 2005
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A group of athletes try to save a village from a ruthless militia.
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Director: Panna Rittikrai

Writer: Morakat Kaewthanek, Thanapat Taweesuk, based on a story by Panna Rittikrai

Starring: Chupong (Dan) Changprung, Nappon Gormarachun, Santisuk Promsiri, Piyapong Piew-on, Somrak Khamsing, Amornthep Waewsang, Suebsak Pansueb, Nantaway Wongwanichislip, Kessarin Ektawatkul, Rattaporn Khemtong, Chatthapong Panatnaunkul, Sasisa Jindamanee, Payong

Year: 2004

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Thailand


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