Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actor: Yanin Vismitananda
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy
A young girl learns to fight from watching TV and the fighters from the boxing school next door. When she finds a list of debtors in her ailing mother s diary, she sets upon a violent quest to collect payment for medical e... more »
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Josh L. from KNOXVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 8/13/2009...
Sometimes I wish martial arts cinema were a bit more like amateur porn. As we all know, a plot, in most martial arts films, is usually a tangential element. So, why not just forgo the exposition and get straight to the fucking? It’s not as if a narrative is even expected. We don’t care why there’s ass-kicking, just as long as there is ass-kicking. So, why do audiences and filmmakers continue to humor each other in this way? In so many of these films, there are 35-minute masterpieces just dying to get out, yet plot continues to rear its unnecessary head. Such is the case with Chocolate, a film from the makers of Ong-bak that tells the story of a young autistic girl named Zen (Yanin Vismitananda) who learns martial arts entirely through mimicry. There’s really no need to go into the “plot” any further than that. The fact that this girl masters martial arts by mostly watching TV is really the narrative’s only interesting aspect.
Why, then, I am recommending Chocolate? The answer is that even though the production leaves a lot to be desired—such as competent direction and a script that doesn’t sound like it was written in crayon—Chocolate contains some of the most impressive stunt work and fight choreography in recent memory. And, even more awe-inspiring, the film marks the debut of Yanin Vismitananda, whose performance alone makes sitting through Chocolate’s silly story worthwhile. Possessing the same grace and precision as her predecessors, Michelle Yeoh and Cheng Pei-pei, Vismitananda is truly a remarkable screen presence to behold. Watching her open the proverbial can of whoop-ass on a seemingly endless queue of bad guys (and a few transvestites) was an absolute pleasure. I lost count of how many times I winced as she pummeled opponents in an array of endlessly inventive moves, or how many times I gasped an expletive as she executed a really painful-looking stunt.
So, while Chocolate is not a good film, it is an amazing display of martial arts ability and well worth watching based solely on that merit. There is a worthwhile story hidden somewhere in this material; the filmmakers just didn’t pay it much attention. Which is a shame, really, as autistic ass-kickers are severely underserved in the current cinema.
Note: Now that I’ve recommended the film, allow me to remove your ability to watch it. Under no circumstances should anyone buy this Blu-ray. It is yet another release saddled with SDH instead of proper English subtitles. The picture is great, the sound is great, but unless you’re fluent in Thai—or can stand dubbing—I recommend either renting the SD-DVD or importing the UK Blu-ray.
Poorly Written, But the Action Is Everything You Want It To
Anticlimacus | 02/06/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Chocolate is the perfect "acid test" to determine who are fans of action movies and who are not. How so? Let me explain. A true fan of action movies has the ability to overlook some flaws in film-making (e.g., script, acting, character development, etc.) if the action sequences are exceptional enough to make up for them. This is no different from fans of art-house dramas who can overlook minimal content if the film can portray everyday life in interesting ways. With that said, Chocolate is one of the best examples of an action movie that has such extraordinary fight sequences that they easily overpower any deficiencies in the script.
An autistic girl with martial arts skill attempts to collect on the debts of her sick mother. This movie is not well written, and requires some patience from the viewer to slug through the early moments. Once the 30 minute mark arrives, however, the viewer is treated to one of the most amazing displays of asskicking by a female protagonist in the history of action cinema. Virtually all of the remaining 50 minutes is devoted to high quality choreography and bone-crunching maneuvers. The settings and scenarios change frequently, thereby avoiding any feel of repetition or monotony. This is brainless action at its very finest. JeeJa Yanin - an amazing specimen with her fluid moves and hard strikes - catapults herself into the upper echelon of female action stars with this single movie. Her punches and kicks start off rather basic, but get increasingly more complex until they peak during the jaw-dropping finale that lasts a whopping 20 minutes. Lots of fun to be had here.
Now, a snobby moviegoer will cry about the negatives without even considering the positives. Anyone who does not enjoy the action in this movie seriously needs to get their pulse checked, or at least schedule for a re-alignment of their action movie tastes. There's nothing more scintillating than watching a cute girl kick the living hell out of hundreds (quite literally) of stuntmen in a variety of environments. Basically, if you're not entertained by this, you're not a fan of action movies. (You probably didn't like So Close or Azumi either, right?) Stop fooling yourself and go watch another Tsai Ming-liang film.
Some critics have claimed that this movie "ripped off" other movies. It didn't. There are a few homages that last a few minutes at most (a few Bruce Lee references, a locker scene reminiscent of Jackie Chan, and some footage from Tony Jaa's movies). These few scenes are only a drop in the bucket, because 95% of the action is independent of any references to other movies. The sign-post battle on the apartment complex balconies is one glaring example of a completely novel (and breathtaking) sequence that pays homage to no one but itself.
This is definitely worth a blind buy. True fans of martial arts mayhem will end up re-watching the action scenes about a thousand times."
Look out Jackie Chan
S. Bennett | Illinois, USA | 04/24/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A Thai production, "Chocolate" starring Jeeja Yanin takes us back to the good old days of martial arts films. With just enough story to be coherent and more than enough fight scenes for anyone interested in this genre, this is probably the "purest" martial arts film to be seen for some time. No magic items, no snazzy special effects, no high wire work, just a tiny little acrobatic woman kicking serious amount of bad guy fanny. That for me was it's greatest appeal.
Jeeja Yanin plays "Zen" an autistic young woman who's mother was at one time associated with the criminal underground. Zen's mother becomes sick, and to pay for medicine and care, Zen (with the help of her friend and her mothers book of markers) begins her attempt to round up the outstanding debts still owed to her mother. What no one realizes is Zen has the ability to learn a martial art simply by watching someone else perform it. This is the entire setup of the movie, and everyone that owes her mother money tries to brush little 90lb Zen off, or more foolishly, sics their own tough boys on her. Big mistake.
Without giving too much of the plot away (not that their is much plot beyond the original setup.) The joy of this movie is simply watching the fights. Look for homages to: Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan and others in her fight scenes. The kicker of course is that Jeeja Yanin performed all of her own martial arts and stunts. And what stunts they are. There are times you'll find yourself shaking your head in amazement saying "How did she do that?" A truly fearless actress who is not afraid to take, or throw a punch. The fact that she pulls off a reasonable depiction of someone suffering from autism is just icing on the cake.
Not for everyone, this movie is violent, cruel in parts and a little depressing sometimes. In other words, not for children. But for those of us who remember the first time we saw Jackie Chan, and were amazed that an actor actually did all his own fighting and stunts, This may be the movie for you. Fast,nasty, and a whole lotta fun, "Chocolate" gets a 5 star from me, not for the story, or even for the acting in some cases, but for the fights and the star.
Look out Jackie Chan. A new action hero is born, She's Thai, about 5'4", and can put her foot right up side your head. Don't let the language barrier or the marginal localization stop you. See it soon so you can someday tell your friends: "Oh yea, I knew she was gonna be a star when I saw "Chocolate."
The best part is, you'll get to not only be smug and in the know, but it gives you an excuse to watch it again to see your friends amazed."
AMP | Somewhere on Earth | 02/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
*An autistic girl learns martial arts through imitation, and uses her skills to collect money from some unsavory people who owe her mother, who is is need of medication (and was formerly associated with the Yakuza). Then the Yakuza retaliates, and all heck breaks loose.
The Good Things
*Video quality is almost perfect; it's very clean, sharp, and colorful, with only a couple of grainy scenes. The sound quality is pretty good.
*Includes a short 8-minute making-of featurette and a few trailers for other movies.
*Includes both English dubbing and the original Thai language track with optional subtitles.
*The movie has a lot of phenomenal fight scenes. They are extremely well-choreographed and distinctive. Judging from the outtakes, it also looks like they were made to be completely authentic, and the actors sustained some serious injuries in the process. Even though the fighting is fantastic, it's also very real.
*The movie is also very well-filmed, with lots of good camera angles and unique colors.
*Production design is good. Sets are interesting, costumes are good, props are good. Look out for one or two unique motifs.
*It looks like there were one or two homages to earlier films by Prachya Pinkaew ("Ong Bak" and "The Protector").
*The storyline is good and easy to follow. Aside from the action, it has some drama and emotional parts, but it's nothing too sappy. It's actually quite invoking, and seems to carry a strong message about love (believe it or not).
*The characters are excellent. The main character, aside from performing so many amazing stunts, shows some good compassion and emotion and makes the character believable. Other characters are great too.
*Music is good.
The Bad Things
*Not very many special features; it's especially dissapointing since the region-free British import seems to have deleted scenes and featurettes and other stuff. Oh well...
*Not for the squeamish; contains brutal violence, some blood, and some brief sensuality.
Thailand seems to be pumping out some of the coolest martial arts films these days, and "Chocolate" is probably my favorite of them all so far. Aside from boasting some incredible fight scenes and stuntwork, it is a surprisingly emotional story with strong characters. This Blu-Ray has exceptional video quality, and would highly reccomend it to any martial arts fan.