Monday, May 18, 2009

Power Kids and Fireball in Singapore and Malaysia

Two recent Muay Thai action films, Krissanapong Rachata's Power Kids and Thanakorn Pongsuwan's Fireball have slipped across the border.

Bangkok Film Studio's Fireball opened in Singapore and Malaysia over the weekend.

Now Thanakorn was a little miffed with me last year when I mused that perhaps his Muay Thai-basketball combat drama had been influenced by Kung Fu Dunk. "I never saw Kung Fu Dunk," he told me bitterly when I met him at a press conference.

Okay. Sorry about that.

I have to wonder then if he's sore about the title the Singaporeans have given his movie: Fireball: Muay Thai Dunk?

A Nutshell Review has a positive review. Here's an excerpt:

Pongsuwan doesn't think twice about indulging the audience into detailed, well-executed fights which take precedence over a decent game of basketball. While watching the film I felt it was a throwback to the 80s Bloodsport type of movie with gladiators battling in an arena, sans plot and character development, where the focus is to let the fists and feet do most of the talking. That said, the fight sequences were nicely shot and tightly choreographed, though it seemed more like an all-out street brawl than sticking to Muay Thai principles. Fans of hard-hitting action will definitely appreciate the ring-side seat to all of the action here, which is relentless in pace and powerful in execution.

So Stefan didn't have a problem with the shaky cam and tight cropping of the action scenes like I did. Others say it's for a good reason, while still others don't get it.

And yet a DVD review by Thor Bee makes me want to give Fireball another look. Singapore's MovieXclusive also has a mostly positive review of Fireball.

Oh, according to A Nutshell Review, Singaporean censors trimmed Fireball to make it fit the less restrictive NC-16 classification rather than the M18. Can't be exposing sensitive 16 and 17 year olds to too much blood and violence. I wonder if Thai censors will be doing the same to foreign films under the forthcoming ratings system?

Meanwhile, there's more to come from Thanakorn, who is working on a prequel, Fireball Begins, as well as another movie, the fantasy Bangkok Fable.

Sahamongkol Film International's Power Kids opened in Malaysia last weekend. I found a review at Cinema Online from Loong Wai Ting, who gives it a mixed review, praising the action and Paythai Wongkamlao's comic timing (a chip off the old block), but criticizing the story and the acting.

I thought Power Kids had problems too. But having learned a bit afterward about the behind-the-scenes goings-on for the filming of Power Kids, I would think the film might benefit from better promotion, to explain the hardships involved and rigorous training of the child actors. But sending stars on overseas promotional tours costs money that the film studios would rather not spend. So I can understand that.

Perhaps we'll hear more about both Fireball and Power Kids, which are both being screened at the Cannes Film Market.

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