Chocolate (Review)


Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Thailand has been making films for a long time. Sadly, their films have not gained much interest outside their home country until recently, which is a shame as some of their older efforts (like Insee Thong for example) are worth checking out. Tony Jaa has helped put modern Thai films on the map. His martial arts films and the stunt therein have given lots of fame to the industry. Many people are unaware of the man behind Tony Jaa, who is also the man behind this film. Director Prachya Pinkaew was Tony Jaa’s mentor, directing him in Ong Bak, and now has a new, female prodigy, the star of this film Yanin “Jeeja” Wismistananda. Director Prachya Pinkaew has been involved in making movies in Thailand for years, but until his recent fame with Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong, most of them haven’t left Thailand ever, now many can be found in VCD format. In addition, some of them can be found in this movie, being watched by Zen in between her own fights.

Setting out to make the film feel different from the start, Zen is autistic, so does not act like your normal fighting chick. But she has the ability to learn to copy movements, which makes her a natural fighter. The storyline of the film works to get Zen from one giant set-piece to another in order to have many well-choreographed battles. This works rather well, and towards the end you just sit back and watch as the stunts get wilder and the choreography gets more intricate. The fight choreographer was Panna Rittikrai, also of Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong fame. Prachya Pinkaew said he went in the autistic direction because Jeeja Wismistananda didn’t have any sex appeal (see Wise Kwai’s Blog.) She has no sex appeal like zebras have no stripes.

Chocolate is in a mix of English and Japanese, but is mainly Thai, so subtitles are on. As the film is not widely available in the US yet, there are bootlegs with terrible subs out there, so be warned. They are not necessary to enjoy the action, but help you follow a bit of the plot. Luckily, I had a real version, so the language barrier was no problem, not that no subtitles has ever been a problem here on TarsTarkas.NET.

Zen (Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda)- Autistic daughter, has muscle memory (once she sees it, she can do it, like that girl on Heroes) can catch almost anything, afraid of flies. Loves her mother very much. Jeeja did all the stunts herself, and was even kicked in the eye (requiring her to wear an eyepatch for a bit!)
Zin (Ammara “Zom” Siripong) – Zen’s Mother and lover of Masashi, former lover of No. 8. A famous actress and singer in her home country, Ammara Siripong was a torch carrier when the Olympic flame went through Thailand in 2008, and is an avid supporter of marine-life conservation.
Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) – Zen’s brother, a former street orphan adopted by Zin. Full name is Mangmoom. Does street performances with Zen in order to earn extra money for Zin’s illness. Finds the book filled with names that owe Zin money.
Masashi (Hiroshi Abe) – Zen’s gangster absentee father. Not absentee by choice. Forced out of Thailand by No. 8 after he took Zin as his lover, and forbidden to see her or his daughter under threat of death. Returns to Thailand when Zin and Zen get into trouble. Has a fascination with imperfection.
No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) – Thai mob boss (is the Thai mob known by an special name like Yakuza or Triads?) and former lover of Zin. Number 8 lost his beloved to Masashi, so shot off his own toe to teach himself a lesson. That lesson was “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!” Dresses pretty retro. Eight is a lucky number in Asian culture, just look at how many Chinese restaurants have 8 in their name (or 18 or 88).
Priscilla (Dechawut Chuntakaro) – Transvestite apprentice to No. 8. Brutal enforcer and jealous of Zin and No. 8’s affection for Zin. But still sympathetic enough to give some money to Moom and Zen when they are street performing. Dechawut “Day” Chuntakaro is a cabaret diva.

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Godzilla 2000 (Review)

Godzilla 2000

aka Gojira ni-sen mireniamu


Takehiro Murata as Professor Yuji Shinoda
Hiroshi Abe as Mitsuo Katagiri
Naomi Nishida as Yuki Ichinose
Mayu Suzuki as Io Shinoda
Shirô Sano as Professor Shiro Miyasaka
Directed by Takao Okawara

The first of the Godzilla Millennium Series of films, where all previous continuity was thrown out again, and writers were allowed to make things however they bloody well wanted. This was also the first Godzilla film produced after the horrifying 1998 US Godzilla, with Matthew Broderick and the most useless giant monster ever. So, it was with great joy that in 1999 Toho made their own Godzilla film, to make up for the terrible, terrible mistake they made in letting that moron Emmerich get his grubby mitts on their franchise. Now, when Godzilla 2000 premiered in theaters, I dragged my best friend and off we went, opening night. A grand total of eight people were in the audience, including 7 with Y-chromosomes (one guy managed to bring his girlfriend as well as his best friend.) The low theater count was an omen of things to come, as the following 90 minutes of mediocrity were less than a satisfying evening. Still, it was more enjoyable than Emmerich’s effort, but then so is soaking your genitalia in boiling cooking oil!

Godzilla 2000 featured a revamped Godzilla costume, and the first fully CGI Gojira Godzilla during some swimming scenes. Thankfully, all the rest of the shots are full man in suit. G2K also features some neat composite shots, with zooms and background renders, that really puts Godzilla in a real-world environment. He looks more like he’s really in the background or in the cities in this film than any before it. Sadly, the people plot is uninteresting, and the villain is even more uninteresting. Orga, the evil monster who doesn’t even get his named mentioned on screen, first shows up as a spaceship before he turns into a goofy jellyfish, then finally some freaked out version of Godzilla. Many of the opponents of Big G have evolving forms, especially in the Heisei and Millennium Series of films. But many of them also suck, thus why Toho played it safe for the last Millennium films and went with tried and true monsters.

The casts are some of the most important parts of the films, and even if they are dubbed you can still gauge the strength or weakness of their acting. The cast here is filled with several actors who are better than the roles they have been stuck with. Toho decided to have some fun with the dubbing, the American version makes several scenes more embarrassing, even altering the perception of some of the characters and the actors playing them. The worst line in G-History will be uttered later in the film, so stay tuned!
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