Phranakorn Film will finally make its sequel to the smash-hit Luang Phee Theng, but Theng won't be playing the title character of a former bad boy turned Buddhist monk. In a bit of appropriate casting, rapper Joey Boy has been cast as the lead in The Holy Man 2. Never mind that his name isn't Theng.
Director Note Chern-yim is thrilled to have Joey Boy, a popular rapper who made his feature-film debut in the 2006 musical comedy The Possible. Note tells Daily Xpress more about Joey Boy and the logic behind making a movie with Theng in the title that doesn't have Theng:
He's of the new generation but a strong believer in Buddhism, which makes him perfect for the role," he says.
Note doesn't feel keeping "Theng" in the title is irrelevant or misleading. "It's like my logo so I don't see why I should change it. The James Bond character doesn't change his name every time they come up with a new actor to take the role," says the director.
Luang Phee Theng, or The Holy Man, was the film that built Phranakorn Film and made comedian Theng Terdterng (Pongsak Pongsuwan) a bankable leading man. The No. 1 Thai film at the box office in 2005, it earned 141 million baht, beating out Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong and the critically hailed Midnight My Love starring comedian Mum Jokmok. It helped that Luang Phee Theng was released during the lucrative March school holidays, and since then other studios have been rushing to make films to fill that timeslot, which is the equivalent of the summer blockbuster season in the US.
Luang Phee Theng also established the formula for Phranakorn comedies: Assemble a cast of popular TV and cafe comics, have a grain of an idea for a plot or a genre (horror, romance or farcical action or all three), and then say "action!" The company is now quite prolific, rolling out a comedy about every other month or even more frequently.
Theng, meanwhile, signed a five-year contract with Workpoint Entertainment. He had already joined fellow cafe comic veterans Mum Jokmok (Petchtai Wongkamlao) and Nong Cha Cha Cha (Choosak Eamsuk) on a hit daily variety television series, Ching Loi, Ching Lan. He is featured as the main host on at least one other variety show, and now stars in comedy films produced by Workpoint for Sahamongkol Film International. His upcoming film is Thewada Tha Ja Theng or The Angels Must Be Crazy, which opens on May 1 and is directed by Adirek "Uncle" Wataleela. Theng co-stars with the cherubic Kotee Aramboy, who's also a regular in films by Phranakorn and other studios, and Thailand's answer to Scarlett Johansson, Bongkot "Tak" Kongmalai.
Luang Phee Theng 2: Roon Ha Rumruay, meanwhile, promises "fans some relief from the frequent appearances of Kotee Aramboy, Kom Chuanchuen and Jaturong Mokjok", says the Daily Xpress article. Instead, it will bring back veteran comedians Thep Pho-ngam, Choosri Chernyim and Yong Chernyim.
(Photos courtesy of Phranakorn Film, top, Thep Po-ngam and Note Chern-yim "ordain" Joey Boy; inset, the newly shorn Joey Boy)