Saturday, 8 November 2008

Chocolate (2008)

There have been a number of films with this title, but the latest is an appetizing confection from Thailand. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the powerhouse director behind the amazing "Ong Bak" and "Warrior King", this one is even more unusual insofar as the martial arts mayhem on display is in the hands of a fifteen-year old autistic girl. The actress in the lead JeeJa Yanin is actually in her twenties, but she plays a very believable teenager.

The backstory, as in so many of these films, is a little incomprehensible to the Western mindset and seems riddled with huge logical holes. For instance it is completely unclear why our heroine's mother (then just pregnant) insists that the Japanese father return home and what hold the local gang boss has over her. However, that becomes completely irrelevant as the damaged girl learns her kung fu moves by watching television, imitating and absorbing the movements she sees, and how she sets out to collect the money owed to her mother (who is now desperately ill in hospital). To see this little waif of a girl with her very limited verbal facility take on gangs of muscular thugs and to defeat them one by one with her agility is little short of astonishing. Granted it does become a ridiculously one-sided contest after a while, but then she executes a different series of amazing moves that take one's breath away. In one word: awesome!
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