Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Region 1 DVD: The Gangster

Following its appearance at the New York Asian Film Festival, one of the best Thai films of 2012Antapal (อันธพาล) – has made a bow on English-friendly Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray as The Gangster, thanks to Magnet Releasing
Starring Krissada Sukosol Clapp, it's a fact-based tale of a hoodlum named Jod in 1950s and '60s Thailand, and spins another thread from the story told by Nonzee Nimibutr in Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters.

After serving time in prison, the late Dang's former lieutenant Jod finds things have drastically changed, with knives replaced by guns. He comes into conflict with a new crew of ambitious idealistic younger gangsters as well as the brutal functionaries of the military dictatorship who are the new power on the streets.

Directed by Kongkiat Khomsiri, it's stylishly bloody affair, with the violent scenes interspersed with sometimes hilarious documentary-style interviews with purported old-timers who recall those bad old days.

A couple of reviews have surfaced since the DVD/Blu-ray release last month.

Here's Patrick Galloway at Asia Shock:

Violence doesn't just explode in The Gangster, it erupts! And, of course there are the usual turf wars and rivalries within gangs leading to treachery. The ending is a bloody barn-burner. I don't want to be Mr. Spoiler, so I'll just say it plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy, if you get my meaning. OK, so I spoiled it for the English majors, but the rest of you nudnicks are in for a shock.

And, of course, Thai film fan Peter Nellhaus at Coffee Coffee and More Coffee:

The ending is some kind of tour-de-force which reminded me of the climatic shoot out in The Wild Bunch. That's probably deliberate. Jod's code of honor reminded me of Ernest Borgnine's great line, "At least we don't hang people". Rival gangs give it everything they've got, on the streets and even a rooftop chase. Peckinpah's film is also recalled with the use of slow motion. On a thematic level, one can also see parallels in that both films explore the limits of male camaraderie. Knives are brought back when a bulletless Jod faces off against his sworn enemy.

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