Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Queens of Langkasuka, Power Kids, Fireball to make North American premieres at Fantasia

There will be plenty of Thai action at the Fantasia International Film Festival, which starts on Thursday in Montreal and runs until July 29.

Browsing through the full festival program, there are three Thai films, all making their North American premieres: Nonzee Nimibutr's historical pirate fantasy Queens of Langkasuka as well as two brutal actioners, Thanakorn Pongsuwan's brutal Muay Thai-basketball actioner Fireball and the kiddie beatdown Power Kids.

Glad to see Queens of Langkasuka making its way around the fantasy-festival circuit, which raises my hopes that there will someday be an officially licensed DVD release, though it will be tough to compete at this point with the flood of torrents and bootleg DVDs. Piracy is killing this pirate movie.

Aside from the award-winning costumes, Queens is really about the action, featuring Dynamite Warrior's and Born to Fight's Dan Chupong as the head-busting military chief for a trio of queens who are struggling to maintain their realm. They are in a race to retrieve a giant cannon that's fallen to the bottom of the sea. Ananda Everingham turns in a credible action performance as well, playing a magical, stingray-riding sea gypsy.

Queens' kid-sister action flick in the Sahamongkol Film family, Power Kids is really making what I believe to be an international premiere. I don't recall it being shown yet at any other film festival, unless the Cannes Film Market counts. I expect that Vietnamese action star Johnny Nguyen, playing the lead villain, will be a draw for Power Kids, even though he's shown up by the child fighters. Don't worry Johnny Nguyen fans. He and his Rebel co-star Veronica Ngo are returning in The Clash, set for release in December.

Then there's Fireball, which is to Muay Thai-basketball as what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is to the Hasbro toy line. Both have the blurry, incomprehensible shaky-cam action that seems to be the accepted way of filming action. But it just gave me a headache. I wonder if Thanakorn will back the camera up and hold it still for the sequel, Fireball Begins? I won't get my hopes up, but I'll still be watching.

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