Raging Phoenix

Raging Phoenix


Reviewed by: Owen Van Spall

Raging Phoenix star Yanin Vismistanan (AKA Jija Yanin) made a big impression in Ong-Bak director Prachya Pinkaew's Chocolate, in which she played an autistic girl whose savant muscle memory abilities grant her great fighting prowess. Now Yanin returns to the Thai martial arts genre in a follow up that packs in plenty of impressive crazy action from both her and her co-stars, but even less coherency, plot or character depths.

Yanin plays bored socialite drummer Deu, who is accosted one day by the heavily armed Jaguar gang who are seeking to drain her of her unique essence to use in their exotic perfumes. She is conveniently rescued by a gang of outlaws: the brooding Sanim, the tipsy duo of Khee Moo and Khee Mha, and the enigmatic dreadlocked Kee Kwai. All of these lone guns have previously lost their wives and loved ones to the gang. They offer to teach her their special drunken fighting style (which actually involves being intoxicated) and use her as bait to break into the Jaguar's lair once and for all.

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Mixing up Thai fighting moves with a new drunken style does make for some loose and free-flowing action set pieces, with some imaginative and funky locations (the pit with criscrossing rope bridges is a standout), bizarre improv weaponry and colorful, if somewhat uncharismatic, hordes of villains to be dispatched. The combat on screen certainly looks like more than a few health and safety violations were waived in order to get a fuller effect. But there are too many fight scenes scattered throughout, and each really could have done with pruning in the editing room. It would matter less if in between each exhausting set piece battle there was rich character development, tighter pacing, an interesting main villain to focus on and sparkling dialogue.

What is really a shame is that Raging Phoenix director Rashane Limtraku was involved in Chocolate along with Yanin - having worked as editor on that film. The magic of their teaming sadly seems not to have appeared the second time around. In truth both films suffer from the same problems, but Chocolate felt fresher and tighter.

Reviewed on: 14 Apr 2010
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A musician-turned-martial-artist takes on human traffickers.
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Director: Rashane Limtrakul

Writer: Sompope Vejchapipat

Starring: Jija Yanin, Kazu Patrick Tang, Nui Sandang, Somphong Leartvimolkasame, Boonprasert Salangam

Year: 2009

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Thailand


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