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The Kick [DVD]
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Martial arts action set in Thailand. After emmigrating from Korea to open a taekwondo gym in Bangkok, martial arts master Mun (Cho Jae-hyeon) hopes that his family, all taekwondo experts, will eventually take over the running of the gym. But when son Tae Yang (Tae-joo Na) foils a gang's attempt to steal a priceless antique dagger, the family find themselves under threat from the gang's leader, who swears bloody revenge.
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The movie is well done, and almost looks real, by looking at the blooper reels most of the kicks looked real because they actually connected so they could get shot. This is a movie you sit back and enjoy the kick you and imagine and some you never even thought about.
I think that many of the jokey bits are embarrassingly weak. There's a dingdong against thugs in a kitchen involving support 'good guys' beautiful Mum Ye Ji Won and avuncular Phetthai Vonkumlao (also has credits as a Thai film director) which I enjoyed as being one of the funnier better-staged bits. Maybe Vonkumlao added ideas of his own here.
Tae-joo Na makes for a rather uncharismatic hero but physically gives his all as the son (who has to prove himself to onetime gold medal hopeful dad), often taking on the baddies including the virtually indestructible head villain (sporting male model cheekbones) single-handed. The girls are not left far behind in the action stakes either. The end credits reveal that several bad accidents occurred amongst the cast, Na not least, who performs some stunts involving elephants!
Jija (or Jeeja) Yanin, who scored such brilliant impact (in both senses) in Chocolate suffered serious neck fracture when filming the at least equally arduous Raging Phoenix. This probably explains why she has a minor role here.
Most disappointing is her highly anticipated but poorly edited rooftop fight against the chief henchwoman near the end. Even so, her improvised-style earlier action bit with a forked stick suggests an innate Jackie Chan wit and inventiveness. This is even
more evident in her back-in-business (all-Thai) 'Buster Keatonesque' This Girl is Badass, directed by co-star Vongkumlao (Wonghamlao on the imported DVD cover). Also released in 2011 but apparently still not available in the UK.
The Kick, tiresome and repetitive moments apart, is on occasion fair hand/foot-to-hand/foot entertainment with a largely unfamiliar game cast but in my view not a good example from the director of the thrilling and less overblown Chocolate etc.
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PROS: Excellent martial arts fight choreography and execution, especially by the son and daughter of the family. CONS: Silly story but totally watchable. Yanin was not as dynamic as in Chocolate and in only a few scenes.