HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Vengeance of an Assassin
HTS Overall Score:70
Very few people have impacted Thai martial arts movies more than Prachya Pinkaew and Panna Rittikai. The two have worked together for decades and Panna in particular is the man behind Tony Jaa and his rise to fame. Panna has been known for more his choreography and training more than acting and direction, but he starred and directed in over 50 lower budgeted action films over the years until he and Prachya (and of course Tony Jaa) struck pay dirt with the release of “Onk Bak: Thai Warrior”. The brutal Thai fighting style mixed with incredible stunts and gritty shooting styles propelled the three men into fame. While Prachya is arguably the better director of the two, Panna Rittikai is a legend in the Thai action community and is widely considered to the be the Jackie Chan of Thailand. His stunts are incredible and brings us back to the days when being a stunt man was considered a dangerous job, as his stunts are some of the best and most risky in the business. Just watch “Chocolate” and check out the special features to realize that they don’t pull punches or use wires unless they REALLY have to. With Panna dying in mid-2014, “Vengeance of an Assassin” will be the last motion picture directed by the legendary martial artist and stunt man.
Than (Nantawooti Boonrapsap) and his brother Thee (Dan Chupong) are your average every day Thai kids. They eat, they sleep, they play martial arts soccer (yes, the film opens up with a full contact martial arts soccer match that would make Jackie Chan eat his heart out), and they both happen to be raised by their drunkard uncle. The two boys were orphaned to their uncle as little kids, but he refuses to let the boys know WHY they were killed. Thee happens to find out the truth through some investigative digging and ends up leaving the family when he finds out this parents were killed as undercover super cops. Now Thee becomes an assassin in an effort to track down the man that betrayed and killed his parents.
Thee’s goal of finding the person responsible comes to him in the most obtuse of ways. Hired to protect a rich man’s daughter, the assassin learns he has been double crossed and that the man who hired him to protect the girl has now turned more assassins on the two in order to frame him for the whole debacle. Injured and outgunned, Thee comes home to recuperate only to where Uncle Nom finally reveals to the family just why his parents were killed. Now Thee, Than and Uncle Nom have to break out the big guns to protect their ward and lay vengeance to the man that killed their parents so many years ago.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42562[/img]I’ll say this up front. Don’t go into a Thai action film expecting it to be a “Citizen Kane”. Part of the charm and fun of them is that the plotline is thinner than an anorexic girl but the stunts and action are through the roof. With Panna Rittikai directing expect the plot to be even thinner than normal and CHOCK full of mind blowing stunts. But, who am I kidding? The only reason you’re watching a movie like this is to see martial artists beat the living tar out of each other while seemingly breaking every bone in the actor’s bodies. In this way Panna delivers the goods. Dan Chupon leads the pack as the assassin Thee, but his younger brother Than seems to be almost as good as he is, which is incredibly surprising, since Dan Chupon has been Panna’s protégé ever since Tony Jaa became a star.
I had to laught the whole movie, as the crazy movie pretty much BEGS to be laughed at (in a good way). The plot is paper thin, but our heroes and villains are pretty much supermen. I was giggling along as Thee somehow manages to get IMPALED on a 5 foot metal rod, then get healed by a Chinese Kung-Fu doctor and then full recover in a couple of days so that he and Than can lay waste to the main villains hideout. Not only that these guys take more hits than anyone could possibly take without being in the hospital. The train battle alone had me tallying up how many times they died only to somehow shake it off and keep kicking. Now this may seem like a bad thing, but in fact it was the glue that held the movie together, if the movie wasn’t this over the top ridiculous I don’t think that you could stomach the storytelling. The action was so ludicrously fun that the shortcomings were almost made up for. I do have to say that while Panna is an INCREDIBLE stunt choreographer, I rather wish Prachya had been behind the director’s chair, as Panna tends to be a bit sloppy with his editing (even for Thai films).
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42570[/img]The 1.85:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray disc looks quite good considering the classic low budget that Panna has for his films and will please fans of the genre quite nicely. The color grading leans towards a very yellowish hue and the greys and earthy browns fill out the rest of the dirty looking picture (and by dirty I mean the amount of dirt, grime and much covering all of the people in the film). Detail is quite nice and ranges from good to fantastic. The grey and yellow color grading doesn’t exactly give a lot of pop to the picture, but there’s plenty of fine detailing to the dirt ground into our heroes skin to the curves and lines of a 9mm handgun. Blacks are very solid, but they do suffer from some washing out and loss of shadow detail at times. I didn’t notice any major artifacting throughout, just a few bits of macroblocking and some subtitle errors really. A very solid showing from Well Go USA.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=42578[/img]Well Go USA brings “Vengeance of an Assassin” to Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track as well as a 2.0 Dolby Digital track for night listening, both in the Thai original language with English subtitles. The 5.1 lossless is quite capable and even though it never rises to greatness, it handles the action and dialog with admirable strength. The vocals are easily understandable and show some solid directionality in fronts. I did notice some sound capturing issues with some distortion, but that seems to be an issue with the recording techniques used vs. an encoding error. Surrounds are active, but never really filled out to the max and LFE is fairly laid back. The blows and impacts add some SERIOUS weight to the low end channel, but the rest of the film felt like it could have used a bit more punch. Overall it’s a very good track that really has it’s only issue being a low budget Thai action track, with the limitations that come with that.
• Theatrical Trailer
“Vengeance of an Assassin” is ludicrous and sloppy, but it’s still a lot of fun and definitely worth it for the fight scenes alone. Thai films aren’t known for their riveting stories so you have to understand what you’re getting into with one of these movies. The action is hard hitting, the stunts awe inspiring and the fake CGI blood giggle worthy, but Panna certainly knows how to employ good stunt men, I give you that. Easily worthy of a rental when you want to see people beat the living snot out of each other while doing backflips, kicks through solid glass, and even a full contact soccer game with more injuries than the civil war.
Starring: Nantawooti Boonrapsap, Dan Chupong, Kessarin Ektawatkul
Directed by: Panna Rittikrai
Written by: Panna Rittikrai
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: Thai: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Thai DD 2.0
Studio: Well Go USA
Runtime: 90 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 14th 2015
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