Tears Of The Black Tiger

Tears Of The Black Tiger


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Picture the scene: a purdy young miss in a purdy pink frock is walking across a bridge carrying a suitcase and holding a parasol, while a lonesome harmonica mourns in the background. It has all the makings of the great start to a good ol' Western.... that is until you realise she is holding the parasol to keep off the rain and is walking over a lily pond to reach a sala. Throw in the super-saturated colours, reminiscent of Dorothy Gale's adventures in Oz and you just know you're not in Kansas any more.

Where you are, in fact, is just about as far from Kansas as you could get - Thailand.

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The purdy miss in question is Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi), the daughter of a rich city governor, and she is waiting for her sweetheart, Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), the country peasant boy she met and fell in love as a child evacuee, when he defended her honour.

At a chance meeting as students some years later, Dum again finds himself called on to rescue her and afterwards they exchange promises to be together no matter what. Matters, however, become complicated by Dum's decision to turn bandit - complete with rather natty turquoise neckerchief - to avenge his father's murder and by Rumpoey's father arranging for her to be betrothed to the local police captain (Arawat Ruangvuth).

This may sound like a classic love triangle, but there is little time for romance with all those wry sideswipes at the Western genre. Killings, of which there are many, take on a comicstrip feel. We see bullets whizzing through the air and blood so magenta it drenches the landscape. And amidst all this, we find ourselves laughing.

Wisit Sasanatieng has created an ephemeral, yet engaging film. The heightened colour only adds to the overall verve of the storytelling, carrying you along with even the most fanciful and cliched twists of the plot. He says his colourising and stylistic techniques were inspired by 1950s Thai director Rattana Pestonji, but I really don't think a Western audience, who knows nothing of his work, myself included, need to be put off by this.

Rather, it is nice just to sit back and let the day-glo colours wash over you, marvelling at the high-spirited energy of it all and thanking the Lord that there are subtitles, for surely, we wouldn't understand the actors even if we spoke Thai, their tongues are so firmly placed in their cheeks.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2001
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Tongue-in-cheek Thai tale of love and revenge, in glorious technicolor.
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Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Wisit Sasanatieng

Writer: Wisit Sasanatieng

Starring: Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchi, Supakorn Kitsuwon, Arawat Ruangvuth, Sombat Metanee

Year: 2001

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Thailand


EIFF 2001

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