"Why the hell these guys use Muay Thai moves I never seen before, goddamn it"?!
As Thailand slowly finds it's bearing in the cinematic world, we, as lovers of foreign film get to share their successes and unfortunately their failures. Fighting Beat does one of these better than the other.
Phi Phi Island is a tropical paradise that holds an exciting bar that keeps the drinks flowing Muay Thai action hot, which keeps the foreigners happy as they spend all of their money on the festivities. This is also home to Kem (Thun Thanakorn) and his friend. They work at the bar serving drinks and letting random customers beat them in controlled fighting matches. When they lose, the customer is then encouraged to give a tip for the hospital care they have to receive for the harsh beating. Even though they're just taking a fall in order to earn some quick cash, Kem is haunted by the fact that his father was murdered in this same location years ago which left him as an orphan residing at a local temple. Under the watchful eye of his new caregiver, Kem begins to learn the ways of Muay Thai. However, things hit a snag as a group of thugs come in and want to buy the bar from the owner, Uncle Praow. Praow immediately makes it known that he isn't interested in selling. Naturally, the thugs try to take the bar by force, but are swiftly defeated by Kem and his friends. The thugs later return to their boss to report their failed attempt, but the boss isn't too concerned as he has a friend who's just gotten himself out of jail and he just happens to be the man who killed Kem's father.
When I first saw the poster for Fighting Beat, my eyes widened and my heart went a flutter. I had been looking for a balls-out slug-fest to hold me over until, "Chocolate" comes out. I actually thought to myself, "this is it." The cover alone reminded me of the 16-bit beat 'em up games of yesteryear like, "Streets of Rage", "Final Fight", and so on. So needles to say, I was eager to watch this one. The carnal rule, at least for me, when it comes to movie-watching, especially foreign films, is to expect nothing and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. If you don't follow this rule, you end up with the same feeling I had after watching Fighting Beat...sadness.
At second glance, Fighting Beat comes off like a teen Thai pop vehicle that's meant to use these multi-talented entertainment forces (i.e. Twins, Boyz) to bring in a younger audience, but even that didn't work because the movie tanked at the box office. That being said, it's left to stand on it's own merits which is where Fighting Beat does just about everything wrong that you can do in a "martial-arts" movie. The lead actor can not fight at all. He can barely mimic some kicks and jumps, and I understand that trying to show authentic Muay Thai is what the director is striving for, but Thun Thanakorn looks as if he's never heard of it. Hell, I'm not even sure director Piti Jaturaphat has heard of it, because he presents it in the most uninteresting way possible. The supporting cast is as lame as he is, if not more so. Are they supposed to be funny comic-relief or bad-ass Muay Thai students? It doesn't matter because they can't seem to be either. The women in the group are pretty hot, but that's about it. The acting is god-awful, especially when they attempt to act in English. The story is paper thin and on the wrong side of retarded, leaving you to wonder why things didn't move away from the bar within the first thirty minutes. Do these guys do anything with their beach-bum lives other than hustle foreigners? Well I guess it doesn't matter, because if you're the foreigner wasting time watching this; consider yourself hustled. (converter)
Buy Fighting Beat on DVD from YESASIA!
The official Fighting Beat website *In Thai