I just had a surprise Thai phase of movie watching. I had no great intention to watch any Thai cinema, I just got a huge dose of random serendipity rolled into 2 consecutive nights of movie watching.
Ong Bak (2003)
from a DVD which didn't have the subtitle The Thai Warrior, is an 80s action movie but instead of some muscle bound European/American going through the motions it's new martial arts expert Tony Jaa making his fame-creating debut, a Muay Thai boxer version of martial arts.
Jaa is Bronsonesque as he plays the straight guy to a 'comedy' sidekick who is more annoying than funny, as per the classic trope. The bad guy is often hilarious, in a good and intended way and the plot is about the right kind of silly as newly qualified monk Jaa leaves his small village for Bangkok in search of the village's stolen god-statue head (which has been stolen by the big bad's henchmen).
Like most films of this genre, when the action is happening it's wonderfully spellbinding and practically 10/10 but when in downtime it's borderline snoozy 4/10. Luckily, this film is about 70% pure action, maybe even 80%, so it's score is an easy 7.5/10
And even plot-wise, but godammit, you really want him to get that statue head back, which isn't bad at all for b-move action flick. Jaa would go on to have a very successful career and is expected to be present in The Expendables 4 which has now finished filming and should be out soon.
The following night I decided to give The Beach (2000)
a rewatch. Well, I say rewatch but I thought it might have been a 1st watch as it was one of those films I simply couldn't remember if I'd seen when it came out, though I was sure I had.
And, yes, I had seen it before, but couldn't remember much at all. And lo and behold, the beach in question is in Thailand and I'm now watching my 2nd Thai movie in a row.
There's not much I can add to the well worn critical narrative for this movie. It was an enjoyable enough ride. Everything seemed of quality and yet somehow not quite right. Some combination of Dicaprio's casting combined with the oddly unflowing script seemed to prevent any of the emotional beats from landing.
It's a pretty cool paradise utopia gone wrong movie, but one feels there are more interesting examples in the genre. I dunno, it's probably why I forgot most of it and probably told myself not to rewatch it back in 2000. I'm tempted to give it a 6.5/10
but that seems unnecessarily harsh on the great actors and wonderful locations shooting and banging soundtrack. It must be a script thing *shrugs*. I dunno.