Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: Ruam Phol Khon Luk Thung Ngern Laa

  • Directed by Pornchai "Gun" Hongrattaporn
  • Starring Paowalee Pornpimon, Pai Pongsathorn, Sunaree Ratchasima, Apaporn Nakhon Sawan, Ekachai Sriwichai
  • Released in Thai cinemas on November 28, 2013; rated 15+
  • Wise Kwai's rating: 2/5

The outfits of the young stars are skimpier and the waistlines of the older stars have expanded, but the music of luk thung has stayed more or less the same since the last all-star luk thung movie, 2002's Mon Pleng Luk Thung FM (มนต์เพลงลูกทุ่งเอฟเอ็ม, a.k.a. Hoedown Showdown).

Unfortunately there isn't actually much music in this sort-of sequel, Ruam Phol Khon Luk Thung Ngern Laan (รวมพลคนลูกทุ่งเงินล้าน). The earlier movie, about folks from various walks of life coming together for a luk thung singing contest, turned into a virtual concert film, with song after song. This new offering skimps on songs, with just one proper musical number during the film. If you want more, you have to wait for the end credits.

So without songs, we're left mainly with the lame comic antics of rotund luk thung diva Apaporn Nakhon Sawan, whose screaming matches with rival diva Sunaree Ratchasima chew up a lot of screen time.

The premise is that singers from the first film, now all big stars, are brought together by the first film's singing monk for a merit-making trip at his down-at-the-heels forest temple. It literally takes forever to get going, as the singers' tour bus moves in fits and starts as it struggles to leave Bangkok.

And, like the first film, the "masked bandit" (Ekachai Sriwichai) with the treble clef tattoo on his wrist has returned to make trouble. The budget for this new effort by M Pictures was apparently not enough to license popular songs or give the bandit actual Mission: Impossible-style rubber masks like the first film. Here, director Gun Hongrattaporn makes due with a quick cut when the bandit assumes a new identity. He's wired the bus up with a bomb like in Speed.

The ghosts of Mae Nak and doomed Japanese officer Kobori from Koo Kam show up, as does Dracula (Swedish luk thung singer Jonas Anderson), though I'm not sure why. And the comic cops from the first film emerge from the bus' toilet, and their appearance was sickening.

Somehow they make it to temple, put on a temple fair and perform that one song. There's muay Thai from a girl fighter, just to get a bit of action in. Then they end up in Buddhist hell, which is appropriate because this stinker of a musical comedy is hell.

If there's one redeeming thing about Ruam Phol Khon Luk Thung Ngern Laan it's young singer Paowalee Pornpimon, the perky performer who made her film debut playing doomed superstar Pumpuang Duanchan in last year's biopic The Moon. Appealing as ever, she's given the one musical number, a duet with young heartthrob male singer Pai Pongsathorn. And there's a bit of romantic wrangling as a triangle forms between Paowalee, Pai and short-skirted star Yinglee.

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