I’ve had Chocolate on my Netflix Instant queue for quite a while thanks, once again, to the fact that it’s a Thai martial arts movie that happens to be directed by Prachya Pinkaew the brain behind Ong-Bak and The Protector, the first two Thai action movies I ever saw and am completely in love with. I even started watching it at some point, but had to stop because it’s subtitled instead of dubbed, which means I can’t have any distractions while it’s on (read: close the laptop). Last night I just wanted to veg out, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Man, I’m glad I did because this movie’s pretty bad ass. The main character is a young girl played by JeeJa Yanin who seems to be autistic. She has the ability to learn martial arts movies by watching others. Between living next to a Muay Thai school and watching Tony Jaa movies like Ong and Protector (!) she gets pretty damn good. The plot is kind of a mix of The Goon and Kill Bill because the girl’s mom gets sick and her chubby friend discovers her mom’s old debt book (she worked with a long-haired dude as a bookie or something). They think it’ll work to just walk up and ask for the money, which of course doesn’t, and forces the girl to throw down her mad skillz against a bunch of dudes working in various factories, dudes who have no problem fighting and trying to murder a teenage girl.
The Kill Bill aspects come in with the relationship between the mom and the long-haired dude, though, in this case, the baby stayed with the mother. There’s also a scene towards the end that reminded me of the Crazy 88 fight in Volume 1, but not so much that it was distracting. As far as the action scenes go, they’re just as good as the ones in Pinkaew’s previous flicks, though now as liquid. Yanin does a great job, but she just doesn’t have the same moves that Tony Jaa does. The final action scene of this movie really has to be seen to be believed. It looks and feels kind of like a platform video game with our heroine trying to get the bad guy with lots of henchman popping out to attack her, but it’s all on the side of a building (so it’s a little like Donkey Kong if you were moving up and down between levels instead of just trying to go up). As I’ve said before, the thing I like about these movies is that it looks like the actors and stuntmen are really getting hurt and you can see that they did during the credits, Jackie Chan-style. Dudes fall down three stories and land on the ground in the final scene all in one shot. It’s INSANE!
My only problem with the movie is the crappy CGI. They use it to show things like balls flying through the air (a way to test the girl’s skills) and flies in a butcher shop (she hates flies for some reason). They look SO bad. There’s also a few rooftop scenes that are looked to me like they were done on a green screen and just look crummy. It’s too bad because otherwise, the movie’s pretty perfect. One other kinda-sorta problem is that, the filmmakers originally intended the girl to learn movies from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and would later show split screen scenes of her fighting exactly like those guys, but they couldn’t secure the rights and sliced those scenes out of the movie. I’d like to see a version with those put back in, but otherwise, it’s a solid, solid action movie that I completely recommend to any action, martial arts, Thai movie fan. Next up on the list is JeeJa Yanin’s Raging Phoenix!