Friday, February 19, 2010

Shadow of the Naga will come in two flavors -- with warnings and without

The Shadow of the Naga (Nak Prok, นาคปรก), the "monks with guns" drama that is finally seeing a release on March 18 after sitting on the studio's shelf for three years, will have two ratings -- 18+ with "pop up" warnings whenever the thieves-dressed-as-monks do something bad, and a straight-no-chaser 20+ with no "pop ups".

The 18+ rating is being done by Sahamongkol Film International in hopes of heading off criticism by conservative Buddhists about the movie's strong language and violent acts. News in Bangkok has a few thoughts about this move.

The plans for the alternate versions were detailed by The Nation in a story yesterday that details about everything you'd want to know about Nak Prok, which is about a trio of thieves who bury their loot in a Buddhist temple then dress as monks in order to retrieve the stolen money. Completed in 2007 and actually premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, it stars Ray MacDonald, Somchai Kemklad, Pitisak Yaowanon and Inthira Charoenpura.

Director Phawat Panangkasiri is candid when he explains the film's long delay in being released:

Phawat says Nak Prok was always intended as a film noir and that he has no regrets about refusing to bow to social sensitivities, even if it's meant such a long wait.

When movie mogul Somsak 'Sia Jiang' Techaratanaprasert saw the final cut three years ago, he ordered Phawat to re-edit and erase the gun from many scenes. "It looked so bizarre when the characters just point their hands at each other!" laughs Phawat.

"They decided to return to original version but with one condition. Somsak knew that the film would be banned under the old film law. So he asked me to wait for the new law, although back then we didn't know really know about the ratings and if and how they would help."

There might be protests anyway. Back in 2003, the action film Aguilimala, based on Buddhist scripture, came under heavy criticism from the Buddhist consevatives.

I am grateful Nak Prok is finally getting released. The trailer, which I posted awhile back, is so good it makes me cry. I hope the whole movie has that effect has well. Because I need a good cry.

By the way, that might be the last Nation entertainment story that I can share freely. The newspaper has instituted a paywall called Nation Exclusive, with entertainment features like that one part of the "exclusive" content for subscribers only. We'll see how that goes.

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