Warrior King

Warrior King

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Anton Bitel

Read Anton Bitel's film review of Warrior King

This two-disc edition form Premier Asia delivers everything that Tony Jaa's new legion of fans would want – as well as some more disposable items. Disc 1 presents the film in glorious widescreen, with a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS (English subtitles optional), so that Jaa's every move can be seen and heard in its original bone-crunching splendour. Some may find the absence of an audio commentary odd in an edition that is otherwise so comprehensive, but the action on-screen hardly requires exegesis and there are enough, indeed more than enough, background materials and featurettes to be found on the second disc.

Disc 2 divides its ample extras into three sections. The Promotional Gallery includes an exhausting array of theatrical trailers and teasers for both the Thai and UK markets, but its main feature is On The Press Trail, a 12-minute reel - set to a throbbing Thai rock soundtrack - following Jaa on his promotional tour of France, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the US. His staged martial arts displays are impressive at first, but in our jaded times, even the most gravity-defying of moves become tedious to watch when reproduced kick-for-kick in different international arenas.

Copy picture

The Interview Gallery is much more substantial. In a 27-minute interview with Jaa, we learn that the softly spoken action phenomenon is inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li; that he began his instruction in martial arts at the age of 10 and still exercises eight hours per day; that his own family, like that of his character in The Warrior King, keeps elephants at home; and that in his spare time he enjoys karaoke.

His comic co-star Petchtai Wongkamlao is suitably hilarious in a 15-minute interview, boasting of never having had acting lessons and declaring an unlikely affinity to David Beckham ("we are both handsome and have the same level of intelligence... we are twins"). Wongkamlao also suggests that director Prachya Pinkaew looks as though he should be working on a poultry farm or directing romantic comedies rather than making violent action pics – an impression borne out by the 15-minute interview with the unassuming-looking director.

Pinkaew is frank about following "a similar basic formula to Ong Bak" in The Warrior King, discusses the difficulties of shooting the film's awesome four-minute single take and politely complains about the Australian government's excessive concern for "its people's safety and welfare" on film sets.

There is also a 10-minute interview with stunt co-ordinator Panna Rittikrai on adapting the classical moves of Chang Tumlai Ruang (or elephant boxing) to the film, and on Jaa's special talent for floating lightly in mid-air; and a four-minute interview with co-star Bongkoj Khongmalai on the gradual westernisation of Thai cinema's portrayal of women, and on Jaa's special appeal as a male embodiment of the Thai spirit.

Lastly, A Warrior's Journey includes three featurettes. Revolution Uprising: Pre-Production Action (14 minutes) shows rehearsal footage for several of the major action set-pieces, and is interesting primarily for the unusual visibility of the actors' heavy protection padding. A Different Line: Multi-Angle Sequence (17 minutes) shows all the major fight sequences, splitting the screen between the final theatrical edit and a cut from an alternative angle. These fights are undoubtedly impressive, but they do not somehow become more impressive with all these different views, making this an extra for completists only.

Lastly 'Making the Warrior: Cast and Crew Interviews' is a 10-minute rush through on-set interviews (or, more accurately, soundbites) from the film's secondary stars (Tri Nguyen, Nathan B. Jones, Jin Xing, Jonathan Foo) and Australian crew members (who are reduced to generalising about working with foreign crews and the friendliness of Thais). It is entirely lacking in substance, although there is some amusement to be found in wrestling star Nathan B. Jones' insistent revelation that "it's just acting". As Homer Simpson would say: "It's funny because it's true."

Reviewed on: 28 Oct 2006
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Tony Jaa kicks ass for the elephants.
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Product Code: CTD51097

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS

Extras: 'On the Press Trail' with Tony Jaa, extensive interview gallery, extensive range of trailers and teasers, 'Revolution Uprising' pre-production action rehearsals, 'A Different Line' multi-angle sequences, 'Making the Warrior' cast and crew interviews.

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