Friday, November 4, 2011
From the Rental Vault (2006): Dynamite Warrior
As a boy, Siang witnessed a cattle thief kill his parents. He trained as a Muay Thai fighter and rocketry expert in order to find the murderer, who wore a distinctive tattoo. Now an adult, Siang roams the countryside in the Isan district of Thailand, taking cattle from wealthy owners to give to poor villagers. Masked so that no one knows his true identity, he searches every cattle worker he fights for the tattoo that will identify his parents' killer.
Lord Waeng, a wealthy representative of a Western company, is trying to introduce tractors to Thai farming, but they are too expensive compared with the cattle the farmers use. So he hires a bandit to raid cattle drives and villages to kill the cattlemen and sell their animals, leaving his tractors the only alternative. His henchmen are thwarted by the mystic cattle driver Nai Hoi Sing, whose magic powers defeat them as he defends his herd. But during the fight an observant Siang notices that Sing sports a familiar tattoo. Waeng tricks Sing into working for him and the Black Wizard to create a magic that, combined with his fighting skill and rockets, can defeat Sing. As he works with Waeng and the wizard, he falls in love with E'Sao, the wizard's daughter.
Director Chalerm Wongpim obviously wants to try to weave together both martial arts and Western movies, drawing on the way the cattle business was conducted in Thailand's distinctive culture. And nothing about those two genres prevents an engaging story that features cowboys, showdowns, Muay Thai brawls and magic spells from being made. But Dynamite Warrior isn't it. Too many slow-motion sequences, repetitive fight scenes and flat attempts at quirky humor mean the different elements never gel. Dan Chupong is fine as Sing and Kanyaphak Suwankut sweet as E'Sao, but Phutiphong Sriwat's Lord Waeng is far too much of a buffoon to menace and Panna Ritikrai as the Black Wizard just chews scenery and laughs evilly. Wongpim may have wrapped several different kinds of fuses together in hopes of a spectacular show, but they all fizzle out before going off.