Monday, February 20, 2006

Review: The Hell of Tarutao

  • Directed by Ruj Ronaphop
  • Starring Sombat Metanee, Nat Puwanai, Aranya Namwong, Manop Asawadhep
  • Screened at the 2006 Bangkok International Film Festival as part of a tribute to Sombat Metanee
  • Rating: 3/5
I think the Canadian exchange student who sat next to me for this will be scarred for life.

In this 1970s film depicting the hellish conditions on Thailand's Tarutao Island, there's sodomizing of male prisoners by the guards, the gang rape of a female resident of the island, crucifixion, torture, shootings, shark feeding, the killing of a crocodile by lesbians and a spitting contest by the male leads.

Sombat Metanee portrays one of the prisoners sent to the island in the 1930s. A lot of political prisoners were sent there. Sombat is a former lieutenant colonel who was involved in some sort of coup against the government at the time. Another top Thai leading man is a former army captain (now prisoner) who accuses Sombat's character of cowardice, and is constantly picking fights with him.

Another character was So Sethaputra, the author of the first Thai-English dictionary. He's shown writing his dictionary in the barracks at night. Just after a shark attack kills a couple of escaping prisoners (one of whom had been sodomized by the guards), So says he's up to the T's - T E A R.

Other prisoners included the grandson of King Rama VII, Prince Sittiporn Gridagorn, who developed a new cucumber strain during his captivity and became minister for agriculture after his pardon. But he's not depicted in the film.

What was depicted was at times unintentionally hilarious. The laughter really got going when Sombat and the other hero were caught trying to escape and were tied up in the mangrove to a concrete post. At first they think they are being left there to drown as the tied gradually rolls in. But then they spot the real threat - a crocodile. Luckily, a couple of women who live on the island are nearby. One of the woman is demurely resisting the amorous advances by the other one. You see, she has her eyes on one of the guys in the river. She sees the crocodile and then ferociously attacks the beast. The butch lesbian gal clamps a knife in her mouth and swims out to cut the men free. She then turns her attention on helping her girlfriend kill the croc.

After that incident, the foursome are in a hut, recovering. Sombat and the first woman hook up, naturally, leaving the other leading man to try and seduce the lesbian. With just a few kiss on the neck, she stops struggling and soon there's some heavy petting going on.

This was my first visit to the new Paragon Cineplex, and the screening was in one of the theaters with reclining seats. It was nice. But it wasn't without problems. Arrangements had been made for subtitles, but the computer that was doing the displaying crapped out about halfway through the film, not that it mattered anyway. Even if the dialogue had been understandable, it wouldn't have made sense anyway. Besides, with most of the other films at the Bangkok International Film Festival being foreign films with no Thai subtitles, it seems only fair to have at least a couple only in Thai with no English subs.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, no questions or comments about where to download movies or subtitle files.

Please read the FAQ about Thai films on DVD before asking about where to find a Thai movie on DVD with English subtitles.

Make your comments pertinent to the post you are commenting on. For off-topic comments, general observations or news tips, consider sending an e-mail to me at wisekwai [ a t ] g m a i l [d o t ] c o m.

All comments are moderated. Spam comments will be deleted.