Sunday, March 16, 2008

Brave (Thailand 2008)

"Whoa! Now that the truth is revealed, get ready to go to hell!"

Brave (กล้าหยุดโลก) is a film attempting to do what Hong Kong martial-arts cinema God Jackie Chan did the best in the late eighties and nineties. Basically, take action with an unlikely hero that uses the environments, wit, and charisma to outshine his opponents. So does Brave have what it takes to bring us all back to that classic time? Maybe.

B (Pairote Boongerd), is a young guy thats forced by the biggest mafia gang in Thailand to steal client information from Wealthy Bank, an international credit card company. He shows up "looking for a job" and makes his way in. Once inside, he places some calls for a ton of food to be delivered to the various businesses within the building. After taking care of some martial-arts experts/credit-card call center workers, B finds Lita (Supakson Chaimongkon), the company's vice president, and forces her to give him the password that will allow him to finish his assignment. With the cops everywhere, he's bound to mix it up with at least a few of them and still manages to find enough time to sneak away disguised as a food delivery driver. Now B has the data he can use to negotiate the release of his brother Tong (Afdlin Shauki), who has been captured, tortured, and held hostage by this gang. So B goes to rescue him and make the switch, but the gang sets up the old double-cross, "rig your buddy with explosives trap", in an attempt to kill both B and Tong.

Later, the mob boss Kovit (Sahaschai Chumrum), finds out that B and Tong are still alive, so he sends waves of gang members to finish the two off, as well as B's former best friend Mia. Meanwhile, Lita's husband, the CEO of Wealthy Bank, takes his own life due to the embarrassing and disrespectful loss that his company has experienced. B and Tong find out about this man taking his life and feel nothing but guilt because of it. They try to find Lita to explain that B was just a pawn in this gangs evil plan, but when they get to her home, they find that the gang has already arrived.

There are things going on in Brave that will really make you want to like it, but sadly, there are also too many red flags that get raised to let you. As with most action movies, the action taking place is definitely the film's selling point, but in the search for the perfect action movie, the narrative is always the one part getting the short end of the stick, and Brave is no exception. It has these odd sub-plots that keep rearing their ugly heads and sends the viewer into mass confusion. So really, you'll just end up ignoring them and continue waiting for more action. At times, the acting is passable. The bad guys say as little as possible and mostly stand there looking menacing. The "sidekick" (Tong), overacts and gets exciting about everything, while Lita cries a lot and seems to question everything that happens. B does his best Jackie Chan impression, from the smiling, light-hearted, good-guy antics, down to the facial reactions he uses to "sell" his pain during the fights. It's not a bad thing per se, but he just has to make all of this his own, and it seems a bit sacrilegious to play on the masters work.

Now, as for the fighting and the stunt work in Brave, I will say that this stunt crew takes some pretty darn good bumps and falls. Just about every scene has a slew of guys flying through something or falling from way too high up, which is always a treat to see. The use of an old building sets up an exciting jump that Pairote Boongerd takes, and it does that classic martial-arts "double-take" replay, and's worth it. The fights as a whole do a good job of gradually getting better as the film progresses, with the best being saved for the climax. Seasoned fans will notice that some of the choreography could have been a little tighter at times in order to keep a better flow during some fights. Other than that, most scenes were quite entertaining and you can really tell that the action was the main focus. So is the Thai martial-arts action film on par with Hong Kong martial-arts action? No. Is it headed in the right direction? With a little help and time, I'd say so. (CBKevin)

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