Saturday, May 14, 2011

On DVD in the U.S.: Naresuan, Somtum, Vanquisher

Magnolia's Magnet Releasing continues to mine Sahamongkolfilm International's back catalog for action titles to release on Blu-ray and DVD in the U.S.

Due out on June 7 is MC Chatrichalerm Yukol's The Legend of King Naresuan Part I and Part II. They have been retitled by Magnet as Kingdom of War, which I guess is an okay title. And for film buffs who've been waiting for an English-friendly release of these movies, this is actually a pretty good deal, since it's the first two parts of Chatrichalerm's historical action drama in their entirety. Remember, his previous royal epic, Suriyothai, was edited way down for U.S. release by Than Mui's friend Francis Ford Coppola, though a five-hour version with English subtitles is available from Mangpong in Thailand. Meanwhile, The Legend of King Naresuan Part III: Naval Battle is still playing in Thai cinemas after nearly two months, and I would expect Magnet to pick it up along with the still-in-production Part IV, after whenever that ends up being released. Kingdom of War Parts I and II will be on Blu-ray and DVD.

A recent release by Magnet is Sahamongkol's fun action comedy Somtum, which gets a rather dumbed-down new title, Muay Thai Giant. Nathan Jones, who fought Tony Jaa in Tom Yum Goong, gets to play the good guy in this one – a hapless tourist who is drugged and robbed during a visit to Pattaya. He's then taken in by a pair of little girls, one of whom is Power Kid Kat Sasisa, who tries to teach him muay Thai boxing. But they instead discover the gentle giant's superpower when they feed him spicy papaya pok-pok salad, and he turns into a red, raging hulk. Meanwhile, the even bigger and meaner Conan Stevens is smuggling jewels, and somehow these two big men meet for a WWE-style throwdown that tears apart an airplane. Watch for guest appearances by Dan Chupong and his Born to Fight sister Nui Kessarin. Panna Rittikrai and his team provide the stuntwork. I liked Somtum a lot and am glad to see it get a U.S. release, even if it does have a dumb title. It's on both Blu-ray and DVD.

Finally, Magnet has put out Manop Udomdej's convoluted swords-and-spies thriller Suay ... Samurai, a.k.a. Vanquisher. And they just call it ... Vanquisher. Not Legend of the Vanquisher or Vanquishing Samurai or Sword of the Vanquisher or Vengeance of the Vanquisher or anything like that. Just Vanquisher. The story has pony-tailed catsuit-clad sword-toting female spy Sophita Sriban left for dead and betrayed while on a mission for the CIA. She then goes back to work for the police in Bangkok and nothing happens until stuff starts happening again. It's a mess, involving a duplicitous lady CIA agent (Jacqueline Apithananont), terrorists from southern Thailand and samurais and I don't know what else. But at least Born to Fight's Nui Kessarin in this one too, so there's at least one decent action scene. It's on Blu-ray and DVD.

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