Chocolate (Thailand, 2008)

For most of this week I had to take a break from blog writing to attend to some family commitments. I am still working on my blog about the plot structure and characterisation in Hong Kong martial arts movie Fist of Legend. Today I have reposted an old ‘mini’ review of a Thai martial arts film that was made in 2008 (or thereabouts). I saw this film during the Melbourne International Film Festival as part of a large and appreciative audience. I watch most of my movies at home alone on DVD. It was great to see this film on the big screen and to be a part of an audience who really got what the film makers were trying to do, and who brought respect and enthusiasm for the film to the viewing experience.

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, this film was really good fun and quite well made. It is an honest to god martial arts movie with the structure of the film revolving around a beginning section (in which we are introduced to our characters and the plot gets set up), and then features 3 big fight scenes before being resolved in a final showdown between our heroine and her supporters and the baddies. I liked the way that the 3 fight scenes in the mid part of the film were each set in a different type of factory – I thought that a nice visual theme was set up here. The final, climactic fight is a good looking set piece which takes place in a restaurant and then on the walls and balconies of buildings overlooking a small laneway in a busy Thai city. In this last fight scene I enjoyed the way the choreographer creatively responded to the architecture of the setting to give the movement sequences structure and originality.

What is it about martial arts films? Only in a martial arts film can you get away with a plot premise which is so politically incorrect – an autistic girl has a genius savant gift for learning physical technique and because of this learns martial arts from watching Bruce Lee films and thai boxing. She becomes a debt collector to help her ailing mother (as you do). At the end of this film she even gets to fight another physically disabled youth in a showdown that had the audience cheering.

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7 Responses to Chocolate (Thailand, 2008)

  1. jpfmovies says:

    Yes this was an interesting movie, she also had that childhood friend that used to take her around and do circus like tricks for money right?

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    • Dangerous Meredith says:

      I don’t remember that bit but it has been a couple of years since I saw the film and wrote this blog. I am looking forward to rewatching this film actually.

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  2. Kiai-Kick has written an excellent review of this movie which analyses it in more detail than I do in the little blog posted above. If you would like to find out more about Chocolate go here:
    http://kiaikick.com/2011/04/18/review-chocolate-2008/#comment-534

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  3. andygeddon says:

    I quite enjoyed Chocolate (like you it’s been a while since I last watched it) but had a few minor quibbles. Among these was the fact that while Jeeja Yanin clearly trained hard for the role I think the fight scenes lack the fluidity and spontaneity you would expect from a martial artist (compare them to say, Ong Bak and you should see what I mean). Ok, there’s an argument that this is appropriate to the plot as Zen is merely copying what she has seen on screen/at the Muay Thai school next door but the fights feel almost too choreographed to me if you see what I mean? Decent enough flick though. @jpfmovies – the street hustling scene with the displays of Zen’s amazing reflexes is one of the highlights of the film for me.

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    • I must admit that I don’t remember getting the impression that it was over choreographed (although I am admittedly casting my memory back over a couple of years to a single viewing). I do remember there being a kind of grim, almost mechanical quality to her movement but I felt that this was an appropriate reflection of her character’s disability. But, yes, it is a quite enjoyable movie.

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  4. @andy…know I’m late to the party here, but also remember that Jeeja Yanin isn’t a Muay Thai fighter. Her primary style is Tae Kwon Do, and she has a black belt and was an instructor before she did Chocolate, so this was also her first experience with fight choreography, which may have made her movements a bit more stilted than what you would get from a seasoned stuntman/star like Tony Jaa, but as DM said, that still serves the character.

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