Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review: Opapatika

  • Written and directed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan
  • Starring Somchai Khemklad, Chakrit Yamnam, Ray MacDonald, Atip Nana, Pongpat Wachirabunjong,
  • Kemaupsorn Sirisukka, Nirat Sirichanya
  • Wide release in Thailand cinemas on October 23, 2007
  • Rating: 3/5

Suicide is painful in Opapatika, a karmic, supernatural action drama involving a class of people who gain superpowers after they kill themselves, but use of those powers also have a negative effect on them.

The high-concept story is compelling, even if it is simplistic – suicide is bad. Duh! A strong ensemble cast of young and veteran leading men makes it watchable.

Unfortunately, the production fails to support the positive aspects. The action mainly consists of fight scenes and gun battles taking place under murky circumstances, with too-tight framing and too-fast editing. There are flashes of good-looking special effects and a couple of car stunts, but those don’t make up for the overall shadiness of the picture.

A private detective played by Putthipong “Leo Putt” Sriwat puts things into action. A human, he’s been trying to uncover the secrets of the Opapatika, and is given a chance to join them by the elderly Sadok (Nirat Sirichanya). Given a revolver, Leo’s character Techit must shoot himself. His mortal body covered with maggots, Techit is reborn with the powers of a mind reader. But as with all Opapatika, use of his powers will have a negative effect – karma coming back to bite them. For Techit, he will eventually lose all five of his senses if he uses his powers.

Sadok pairs Techit up with Thuvathit (action veteran Pongpat Wachirabunjong), a human who leads a paramilitary army that is devoted to one thing – finding and capturing other Opapatika and bringing them to Sadok. Sadok seeks to consume the flesh of other Opapatikas and gain their powers, because he is deteriorating - the cost of using his power, which remains unrevealed for most of the film. Pongpat's character narrates the story, too, providing helpful information. It would have been really confusing without his explanations, so thanks for that!

Their targets: Paison (Chakrit Yamnam), a ruthless assassin who bears scars from all the knife and bullet wounds of his victims; Jirat (Killer Tattoo's Somchai Kemglad), an immortal who considers his immortality a curse; Aroot (Fun Bar Karaoke's Ray MacDonald) who is a powerful fighter by night, but is weak during the day; and Ramil (Atip Nana), a daredevil who can project a fierce ghost (the best special effect in the film, and I'm not sure what the drawback of his power is).

Written and directed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan, the story shares a similarity with Thanakorn's enigmatic 2003 drama, Fake (which also featured Leo and Ray), in that all the characters are drawn to a mysterious, ethereal woman (Kemaupsorn Sirisukka).

Opapatika also channels the likes of Night Watch, Blade and Underworld, especially with the themes of immortality and a secret parallel world of supernatural beings. Except for scene when the paramilitary army is burned alive, Opapatika lacks the spark of those three franchises. If it hadn't been so dour and serious all the time, and had better-presented action sequences, Opapatika might have been a contender.

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