Friday, June 6, 2008

Bodyguard 1 and 2 added to New York Asian Film Festival

They mean it this year, apparently. Last year, the New York Asian Film Festival had tentatively mentioned Mum Jokmok's The Bodyguard and Bodyguard 2 among its lineup, but for some reason the films never materialized (though they did have Dynamite Warrior).

This year the films are back in a newly released and extended schedule for the New York Asian Film Festival, and if it really does happen, 2004's absolutely crazy Bodyguard will make its New York premiere while last year's slightly less crazy Bodyguard 2 will make its U.S. premiere.

Following his co-starring turn in Ong-Bak with Tony Jaa, canny comedian Mum Jokmok (Petchtai Wongkamlao) was able to use his newfound clout with Sahamongkol Film to make a big, John Woo-style action film with lots of slick gunplay and big explosions. Mum cast himself in the lead as the stoic, disgraced bodyguard of Thailand's richest man. Of course there is plenty of comedy, including a scene where Mum runs through the Victory Monument traffic circle naked as a jaybird. A cast of comedians provides even more comic relief. And there's a sweet, sappy love story between a couple young supporting cast members. Plus a kick-ass cameo appearance by Tony Jaa.

Bodyguard 2 wasn't as good. It's a prequel, in which Mum plays a Laotian secret agent sent undercover to work for Thailand's biggest record label, which is a front for nuclear weapons smuggling. While Mum becomes a big singing star, he teams up with an American female spy and all the time has to stay a step ahead of his wife (Janet Kheaw). Tony Jaa makes a cameo that parodies Tom Yum Goong, with him repeating his line "Where is my elephant?"

The Bodyguard films are in addition to another, even bigger pair of Thai sequels, Naresuan I and II, with the first Naresuan film making its international North American premiere. The New York Asian Film Festival will be the first time both films have been shown together outside Thailand Asia. (Despite what the festival website says, the international premiere for part one was in Pusan last year, where both films were shown.)

Here is an excerpt from the synopsis for Naresuan:

Alright folks, this is the big one. An avalanche of thundering elephants coming off the screen like a tidal wave. The Old and New Testament of Thailand. It’s King Naresuan I & II, the biggest two all-time blockbusters ever released in Thailand, telling the story of King Naresuan the Great (also known as the Black Prince), Thailand’s warrior king who protected Thailand from the Burmese and who conquered more territory than any other Thai king before or since. Directed by Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol, 19th in line for the Thai throne, the first King Naresuan movie is the Genesis and Exodus of Thailand, while King Naresuan II is like the first four Gospels, telling the tale of how King Naresuan founded modern day Thailand and liberated it from Burma in the sixteenth century. While there are no good guys or bad guys in these two movies, since everyone is depicted as a statesman and politician pursuing an imperial destiny rather than a superhero or an archfiend, there are also no subversive surprises. The Naresuan movies are populist entertainment at its best. Will you learn something new about the human heart? Not so much. Will your blood get pumping, your heart get pounding and your grin split you face in half? Hell, yes.

Gets me kind of pumped to see Naresuan III.

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(Via Twitch and Quiet Earth)

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