Saturday, January 30, 2010
Upcoming Thai film releases for 2010
Yeah, I know. It's almost February. Sometimes these things take awhile.
The coming year in Thai cinema will finally see the premiere of several long-awaited, highly anticipated projects, among them Ong-Bak 3 from Tony Jaa and director Wisit Sasanatieng's reboot of the classic Red Eagle franchise. And the long-delayed Naresuan series will have its third and fourth installments.
This year will also be a further test of the Culture Ministry's ratings and censorship system.
Here's a look at some of what's coming.
Sahamongkol Film International
Ong-Bak 3, the sequel to 2008's Ong-Bak 2, is expected to be released on April 29. News from the set has been quiet this time around, in contrast to Ong-Bak 2 when financial troubles stressed Jaa out and forced him to retreat to the serenity of a meditation cave. Still set in ancient times, Ong-Bak 3 picks up where the previous film left off so abruptly and has Jaa's ancient warrior confronting his dark side. As one teaser poster tagline says, "the biggest fight of all is with himself".
Once Ong-Bak 3 is released, Jaa will get to work on a project involving him and his female action star counterpart Jija Yanin.
And word is that Sahamongkol Film International boss Somsak "Sia Jiang" Techaratanaprasert will allow Jaa to star in foreign films, at least, reports The Nation, Hong Kong films by producers who Sia Jiang has dealings with. So there's the possibilty of Jaa sparring in Donnie Yen, and Jija might appear in a Jackie Chan movie.
Jaa's former director Prachya Pinkaew will be back in action with an English-language film, Elephant White, starring Djimon Hounsou. Production starts next month, and the release will come in 2011. It's among several projects mentioned for Prachya. Others include City of Angels and Ta Bang Marn.
Sahamongkol is distributing a tentpole for the Thai film industry, The Legend of King Naresuan III and IV, about the continued adventures of the the 16th and 17th century ruler of the Ayutthaya kingdom. The movies are scheduled for back-to-back releases in August and September. Directed by MC Chatrichalerm Yukol, these sequels have been on the calendar since 2007. Controversially, at least in the eyes of some film-industry observers, Naresuan III and IV have received 480 million baht in funding from the Thai government, which will likely promote watching the movies as a duty for all Thai people.
Meanwhile, Sahamongkol has a few thrillers lined up. These include the intriguing Who Are You?, written by Eakasit Thairatana. It's coming out on February 25. A horror-sounding title is Po Taek Yak Tang Narok (โป๊ะ แตก แยกทาง นรก). And there's 14, the highly anticipated sequel to 13 Beloved by director Chookiat Sakweerakul, which was based on a comic book series by Eakasit.
Shadow of the Naga (Nak Prok) will also finally see a release, two years after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Pawat Panangkasiri's film was shelved over concerns about its story of thieves who ordain as Buddhist monks in order to retrieve hidden loot. Producer Prachya Pinkaew used it as a test case in discussions about what would be permissible under Thailand's new film law. It will be released under the restrictive 20+ rating and will also have warning messages displayed throughout, telling viewers they shouldn't do what the characters on the screen are doing, similar to the "don't do that" warning messages about smoking, drinking, sex and violence found on DVDs distributed in Thailand by Rose Media.
Further down the line for Sahamongkol is Yamada: Samurai of Ayutthaya, a historical action epic about the samurai who served in the court of King Naresuan.
Upcoming Sahamongkol comedies include Saranair Sip Lor (สาระแนสิบล้อ) on April 1, which will have Mario Maurer joining in the shenanigans of the Saranair practical-joke crew. Mum Jokmok will reload his guns for The Bodyguard 3 and there will be Tukky Jao Ying Khoiy Kob (Tukky เจ้าหญิงขายกบ or Tukky: The Princess and the Frog), a star vehicle for popular comedienne Sudarat Butrprom.
Five Star Production
Five Star makes its 2010 bow with the romantic comedy My Valentine (แล้วรัก ...ก็หมุนรอบตัวเรา). Coming out on Thursday (February 4), this is from same team that did last year's Before Valentine. Directors Songsak Mongkolthong, Pornchai "Mr. Pink" Hongrattanaporn and Seree Phongnithi collaborate on a story that stars Academy Fantasia performer Mint Minthita. She's trying to decide which fella is right for her.
More comedy and romance will come in Boonchu 10 (บุญชู 10), which was in pre-production when the series director Bhandit Rittakol died on October 1 at age 58. Actor-screenwriter Kiat Kitjaroen, who's been with the Boonchu series since the beginning, takes the directing helm.
Five Star has a hand in the pan-Asian short-film anthology for the city of Busan, South Korea, Camellia, which includes a segment by Wisit Sasanatieng and Iron Pussy performer Michael Shaowanasai.
But the big project for Five Star and Wisit is, of course, Insee Dang, the reboot of the Red Eagle franchise that starred Mitr Chaibancha, Thailand's biggest movie star of the 1960s. The 150-million-baht effort is a co-production between Five Star and Kantana. Wisit has set the story in 2016 and cast Ananda Everingham in the lead as the masked vigilante crimefighter. It's set for release on October 7, one day before the 40th anniversary of the death of Mitr, who perished in a fall from a rope ladder on a helicopter while making Insee Thong.
GMM Tai Hub so far has only one project due out soon. It's a family comedy directed by Wittaya Thongyooyong, the Fan Chan alumnus who last offered the rock 'n' roll time-travel comedy The Possible (Kao ... Kao) in 2006. Baan Chan ... Talok Wai Gon (Por Son Wai) (บ้าน ฉัน ..ตลก ไว้ ก่อน ( พ่อ สอน ไว้ ), about a clan of comedians. Jaturong Mokjok and Paula Taylor star. It'll be out on March 11.
Banjong Pisanthanakun, half of the Shutter/Alone director duo who helmed the comic segments of 4bia and Phobia 2, will shift gears entirely to direct a romantic drama.
Continuing with the horror thrillers that are more marketable internationally, Phranakorn has started its year with Tai Hong (Die a Violent Death), which opened this week.
But then it returns to more-familiar comedy territory with Gong Pan Kreukkreun Tor Tahan Keukkak (กองพัน ครึกครื้น · ท. ทหาร คึกคัก), a gays-in-the-military romp that opens on March 11. It's directed by comedian Note Chern-yim.
Later in the year, there's the "snakes in an apartment" caper The Intruder (เขี้ยว อาฆาต, Kieow Akaat).
A third entry in Note's Luang Pee Teng (หลวงพี่เท่ง 3) series is planned, and there's Thanit Jitnukul's historical epic sequel, Bang Rajan 2.
A fast-moving relative newcomer in the Thai film industry, Oriental Eyes has two releases planned for this year, the thriller 9 Wat (Secret Sunday) coming out on February 18 and the action thriller starring Princess Ubolratana My Best Bodyguard due later in the year.
Princess Ubolratana also stars in a historical epic, Legend of the Queen, due in 2011.
Thailand's independent filmmakers are already off to a strong start this year, with two world premieres at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Thunska Pansittivorakul is debuting his controversial experimental gay romantic thriller Reincarnate and Jakrawal Nilthamrong ventures into Africa with Unreal Forest.
Reincarnate likely won't be shown in Thailand, but there's a chance Unreal Forest will be seen here this year. It's produced by the indie label Extra Virgin under Pimpaka Towira and Mei Meksuwan.
Extra Virgin also plans to release last year's eyepopping documentary Agrarian Utopia in Thai cinemas this year. Uruphong Rakasad's feature is also still on the festival circuit, hitting the !f Istanbul AFM International Independent Film Festival.
Also trying for at least a limited theatrical release in Thailand this year is Jao Nok Krajok (Mundane History), the family drama by Anocha Suwichakornpong that debuted last year and is also in Rotterdam this week.
Aditya Assarat and his Pop Pictures crew are hard at work on their sophomore feature, High Society (Hi-So). Starring Ananda Everingham, Cerise Leang and Sajee Apiwong, it's the story of an overseas-schooled Thai man trying to reconcile relationships with two girlfriends -- one from his school days in Australia and the other a young Thai woman. The production has shifted to Bangkok, where the crew are "sniffing around" for locations. It looks like they are aiming for a release toward the end of the year.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has completed shooting his next feature, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and is currently editing.
(Via The Nation and Pantip.com)