Monday, January 30, 2006

Review: Dangerous Flowers (Chai-Lai)

  • Directed by Poj Arnon
  • Starring Bongkot Kongmalai, Supaksorn Chaimongkol, Kessarin Ektawatkul, Jintara Poonlarp, Bhunyawong Phongsuwan
  • Rating: 1/5

Painful and pointless, the meager offering of eye-candy moments for male action fans aren't worth the effort it would take to view this awful movie.

Bongkot Kongmalai (Ai Fak, Tom Yum Goong), Supaksorn Chaimongkol (Andaman Girl), Kessarin Ektawatkul (Born to Fight), morlam singer Jintara Poonlap and TV comedy troupe comedian Bhunyawong Phongsuwan star as five sexy super crimefighters who all have the names of flowers (Lotus, Hibiscius, Rose, Arthurian, Crown of Thorns).

They are out to solve the kidnapping of the daughter (Narawan "Grace" Techaratanaprasert) of a Japanese businessman who holds the secret to the prized "Pearl of the Andaman".

It starts out on an airline flight, with four of the Chai-Lais already on the job, disguised as flight attendants and passengers. The fifth, meanwhile, is on the ground, chasing the bad guys down a rural highway, using her sportscar to try and stop an SUV. With her car too smashed to continue, she gets out and stands in the road, and stops traffic with her dynamite looks.

Back on the plane, it's all hijinx and high kicks as the Chai-Lais foil the kidnapping, which was led in part by the evil transvestite King Kong (Wannasak "Kuck" Sirilar).

If the movie would have ended there, I would have been happy, but unfortunately there's another 90 minutes to go, so more screaming, big explosions, gunshots and a horrible, booming synthesizer soundtrack must ensue before the movie can finally end. And one of the best parts is the ending credits, where there's the spectacle of nine-year-old Narawan blasting everything in sight with an M-60 machine gun.

There are two underwater scenes (cheesecake for the boys) and a traffic chase or two, and a big wire-fu fight scene in the lobby of an office building, where the Chai-Lais are all wearing towels. Try doing some kung-fu kicks while you're wrapped in terrycloth sometime.

Some romance is thrown in. Bongkot's character has her heart-wrenching moments with a boyfriend Krit Sripoomsed (from Buppha Rahtree).

Jintara is paired with Nithichai "Yuan" Yotamornsunthorn from the Dragon 5 boy band strictly for the comedic effect of a young central Thai guy falling for the darker-skinned, flat-nosed, older Isaan singing star. Some jokes are made about Jintara's character - about her speaking the Isaan (Northeast Thailand) dialect and such - that got a lot of laughs. Low-class humor and racism is alive and well.

Later on, when those jokes have worn out (as well as jokes about the cross-dressing King Kong), Jintara shows up driving a tank, but by then the focus is on a cross-eyed villain.

Mum Jok Mok provides some laughs as the Chai-Lai's handler. He appears in an increasingly hilarious variety of wigs.

The action isn't that great. Born to Fight star Kessarin Ektawatkul - a national tai kwan do champion, gets to practice a tough stance while riding atop a moving van, but any hand-to-hand action is framed too tightly and edited too fleetingly to really give any sense that there was any real fighting going on.

It's also sloppy. While the story takes time out for jokes about the cross-eyed woman not being able to drive or shoot straight, you see the rest of the characters just standing around in the background doing nothing.

But you can do something - stay away from this.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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