Tuesday, July 1, 2008

On DVD with English subtitles: Soul's Code, Dream Team

Two movies that I skipped seeing in the cinemas -- Soul's Code and Dream Team -- now have another chance to get in front of my eyes because they've just been released on DVD in Thailand. And what makes it almost certain they will find their way into my DVD player is that they have English subtitles -- a rare occurrence in the Thai film industry, which has pretty much stopped issuing DVDs with English subs so that the films can be sold to overseas distributors with an exclusivity that would not exist under the presence of the mail-order gray market.

Soul's Code (Thod Rahat Winyan), a mix of CSI police procedural and hair-ghost tales, was a box-office flop when it debuted in cinemas back in February. Produced by Alangkarn Studio, Five Star handled the international sales at the Cannes Film Market, and managed to sell it to Bolivia.

The movie stars M.L. Nattakorn Devakula, a television anchor, newspaper columnist and Nissan pitchman who styled himself as "Thailand's answer to Brad Pitt". But Pluem, as he's called, has evidently left movie stardom behind. He has since struggled to cobble together a financial statement and made known his political aspirations. He is running for governor of Bangkok with closing the red-light zones of Patpong, Nana and Soi Cowboy as his main campaign promise. Best of luck with that.

In Soul's Code, Pleum portrays a police detective, hot on the case of a girl found murdered, folded up in a cardboard box and bound with strips of cloth from a monk's robe. The ghost of the girl then urges the detective and the forensic examiners towards clues in solving her murder.

The DVDs are already winging their way around the globe into the eager hands of foreign viewers who will buy just about any movie that comes out of Thailand, as long as it has subtitles. The first review I've found is from Delirium Vault's enthusiastic Nekoneko. Here's an excerpt from her detailed DVD review:

Soul’s Code ends up being a passable Police Procedural, a nod to forensics, and only an acceptable ghost story. Our vengeful spirit relies more on gentle nudging and some flickering lights, and maybe a few strange sounds to get the job done. If you were hoping for a little sequence of bullet vs ghost you’ll have to look elsewhere. But the ending is worth it ... just not in a way you’d probably expect.

Rose Media is distributing the DVD, which is cause for concern. On past DVD issues, Rose has engaged in a bizarre pattern of self-censorship, blurring out nudity, sexual acts, drug use, cigarette smoking, liquor bottles and guns being pointed at people's heads. Rose then moved past the blurring, but included a sort of Surgeon General's warning on scenes it deemed offensive, with Thai text reminding viewers that smoking causes cancer, drinking is not good for you, you shouldn't have unprotected sex and guns are very bad. Happily, according to Nekoneko:

There’s none of the crazy digital censoring on this release, unlike many recent Thai discs ... You know, the blurry blobs that sometimes obscure any nudity or drug use, or threatening of people’s heads. Thank goodness. If it has been edited for content, I didn’t notice it.

The other new English-friendly DVD release is a completely different kind of movie.

Produced by RS Film, Dream Team is directed by Kittikorn Liawsirikul and is the story of 10 little boys who form a tug-of-war team to participate in the National Kindergarten Games. The disc is distributed by United Home Entertainment, the same fine folks who have released Celestial's remastered Shaw Brothers martial-arts flicks in Thailand. Two editions of the DVD are available -- a one-disc version with just the movie and a two-discer with some behind-the-scenes extras. Both have English subtitles.

The move to release Dream Team with English subtitles makes sense because it's not the type of genre film (horror or martial arts) that would normally be picked up for international sales, even though it was shopped at the Cannes Film Market. Still, it made a decent showing at the box office when it was released in cinemas back in April.

And, Dream Team is among the slate of Thai films at the upcoming Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, where the comedy is screening in the Family Fanta program.

Both Soul's Code and Dream Team are available at eThaiCD.com.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of Soul's Code reviews, mine is online here:


    I'm posting all of my Sukhumvit Eye reviews -- back-dating them to the time of the film's release.



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