- Directed by Supakij Tangtadsawat
- Starring Shahkrit Yamnarm, Thep Pho-ngam, Akarin Akaranithimethara, Patra Athiratkun
- Released in Thai cinemas on January 31, 2014; rated 15+
- Wise Kwai's rating: 3/5
Supakij Tangtadsawat makes his directorial debut with Four Kings (สี่เรียงเซียนโต๊ด, See Riang Sian Tode), a heist flick that aims to recall the team-building of Ocean's Eleven, the card-playing trickery of Rounders and the sleight-of-hand shenanigans of Now You See Me.
Produced by Nonzee Nimibutr, and exhibiting his trademark stylishness, Four Kings holds together for the first hour or so, but then the narrative stumbles. The cool style of the heist flick switches tone and becomes a run-of-the-mill comedy, complete with the usual stereotypes of Thai comedies.
The film begins as a whimsical observation of Thai gambling culture, a culture in which gamblers will bet on anything, right down to what color underwear a mini-skirted woman will flash when she alights from a tuk-tuk.
Into this mix comes veteran comedian Thep Pho-ngam, who firmly anchors the cast as Sian, a conman who makes and sells fake Buddhist amulets. His nephew Riang (Akarin Akaranithimetharat) is a chip off the old block, with many generations of gamblers' blood running through his veins (his mother lost the bet on guessing his gender).
But they lose big when a fixed Muay Thai fight doesn't go the way they expected. And they run into more trouble when nephew Riang tries to sell a fake amulet to an underworld kingpin who had already purchased a similar fake from the uncle.
So they come up with a plan to cheat the kingpin and win back all their money by recruiting Todd, a social-climbing card-sharp magician (Shahkrit Yamnarm). But even with Todd's ability to change cards with a wave of his hand, they still need Sri, a curvy female accomplice (Patra Athiratkun) to distract their mark.
The plan works, sort of, until its revealed why the movie is called Four Kings and not Three Kings and a Queen. Here was a chance to have a strong female character – Sri even picks up a machete at one point and hollers "this is Sparta!" and chases after trade-school thugs. But then they make her a he – even though Patra is a she, an actress who's been the nang'rai (female villain) of many Thai soaps and posed on the cover of Maxim and other lads' mags.
There is confusion and much running and screaming, and the gang gets away. But then, somehow, they come up with a plan to do it all again, only at a casino in Cambodia, where the stakes are higher and the danger of being caught is even greater.
There's a few laughs to be had. A squeaky ball on Sri's rear had folks tittering. A surreal sight gag had Thep in nothing but a pair of muay thai trunks being loaded into a giant gift box with a bow on it as a present to the Cambodian gangster.
The extremely tall and deep-voiced comic-troupe member Akaradej Rojpinit is a bodyguard of the Thai gangster and has a few amusing moments.
There's other female characters too. The Cambodian gangster has a quartet of bad-ass lady bodyguards. But they disappointingly don't end up doing anything at all. Wasted opportunity.