Thursday, April 1, 2004

Name change for Siamese Outlaws

The English title for the upcoming stylised Thai "western" remains the same - Siamese Outlaws. But the Thai title has undergone some changes, due to the increasingly sensitive political situation in southern Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported today.

Based on a true crime that took place in 1965, the movie was initially to be called 2508 Plon Krom Tamruad, meaning "the siege of the police headquarters in year 2508".

But, after the scandalous robbery of a military camp in the south earlier this year, the military requested that Five Star Production change the title.

The original suggested that the bad guys could outsmart the authorities while the new title, 2508 Pid Krom Jab Tai, means something like "the entire police force are out to catch those bastards, preferably dead", the Post's Kong Rithdee reported.

"This was not an exaggeration," he continues. "On December 5, 1965, 17 bandits armed with the most sophisticated weapons of those days laid siege to a town called Tha Rua, in Ayutthaya province, systematically took control of the police station, blocked off the people's escape route, and cleaned out six gold shops. They made off unscathed, though a shoot-out with the police left four civilians dead.

"The radical stunt enraged and humiliated the police. The iron-fisted prime minister of the period, Field Marshall Thanom Kittikajorn, issued the notorious "Mor 17", the equivalent of an execution order, and virtually the entire police force were deployed to track down the perpertrators. One by one the bandits were arrested, executed, or shot dead during shoot-outs. It took over two years before the authorities could finish off the whole gang."

"It's a terrorising case, perhaps the most terrorising robbery this country has ever seen," director Vinai Pathompong told the Post. "I had to streamline the story, since it was tough to cram 17 main characters in one picture, plus many more on the police side. But I intended from the beginning to make this an action-caper movie, with lots of action sequences, and I spiced it all up by making some of the bandits a super-fighter protected by the amulets and voodoo art, which is something people in those days really believed in.

"But of course I'm not trying to glorify these outlaws. I'm not making them into Robin Hood. They're busted and they met their deserved ending, as it actually happened."

Vinai is a cinematographer who shot Nonzee Nimibutr's 2499 Dang Bireley and Young Gangsters in 1996 and also did some work on the recent Home Rong (The Overture).

Siamese Outlaws is his directorial debut. It opens in theatres on April 8.

Now for some comment: I'm not too anxious to see this, as I see it as a loud, boring excuse to put some ageing Thai characters actors to work as they use massive amounts of firepower in battles with the cops. This is like any other big-budget Hollywood action movie - something I look toward Thai movies to steer clear of. Instead, I should pop Fah Talai Jone - Tears of the Black Tiger - in the DVD player and watch it again.

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