2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
How live-action Tekken should be!,
This review is from: Warrior King [DVD] (DVD)
Tony Jaa is an extremely talented martial artist and this fact hits you in the face (metaphorically) in the stunning action setpieces in this film. I think Western audiences are too convinced that good fight sequences can only be achieved by wires and computer graphics, but as Warrior King shows, this is definitely not the case.
Tony Jaa takes months to come up with sequences and practises, practises, practises them to make them look intensely real on screen. You have to feel incredibly sorry for the stuntmen who only get 5 seconds on film just to have their arm convincingly broken in 12 places(!) And unlike, most films, where the choreography is mainly based around one style of martial art throughout the whole film, Warrior King (and its predecessor, Ong-Bak) highlight the varied combat forms that exist throughout the world and basically put these fighters up against each other - hence live-action Tekken! Although, of course, Muay Thai has to win out!
However, I did only give this film 3 stars because although, the fight scenes define the movie, it is technically a movie first and I was quite disappointed with the story, dialogue and characterisation.
The story is pretty much the same as Ong-Bak with a naive Thai man having to go to the city to rescue something and on the way beat up hundreds of villains to reclaim what was stolen. I would have forgiven the plot were it not for the fact that the dialogue between characters really is not slick, mostly due to the fact that there are 3 different languages being used in the film (Thai, Mandarin and English) and as none of the characters share a common tongue, having to rely on the subtitles all the time ruin the movie. Furthermore, unlike Ong-Bak, you do not see any development of the characters as the film goes on: Tony's character simply repeats himself each time with "Where's my elephants?" and then beats up every obvious villain in the shot; the comic relief provided by, once again, Phettahi Wongkhamlao, is not great because his character is more of a "go-between" between the Thai and English characters, therefore he cannot be as funny as he can be; and the villains are just your typical one-sided comic book bad guys. They may not say cliched lines as often, but they still act like them.
Out of the whole film, there are probably just about 5 scenes which are really great watching, but they just don't last long enough, and there is quite a lot of film to get through before the key action. People who loved Ong-Bak, like myself, will be disappointed and as a stand-alone action film, it may be too incoherent for general consumption. But for some real high-kicking, bone-crunching, visceral-tearing, mind-stupefying action sequences it really does show off. Look at it this way: Bruce Lee's Game of Death, technically, was a long film with only a few cool fights, and that became classic...