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April 28, 2013

Movie Review: Bangkok Revenge (2011, Blu-ray)

Review By: Rob Sibley

Looking around online and reading countless reviews of it I've come to the conclusion that I'm one of the few who really enjoyed “Bangkok Revenge”. Which is fine, I never mind being in the minority. To me this is a love it or hate it type of film. The plot isn't anything new at all and the performances are alright... but the fighting is where this film really excelled. If you want a comparison review head on over to Wicked Channel and check out the great James DePaolo's excellent review of the film.

The plot is very simple for the most part. We open up in in Bangkok 1990. A family is fast asleep when a group of gunmen carrying 12 gauges bust into the house. They quickly dispatch the father and mother to discover the couples son was watching the entire time. Seems like they would have let the kid live but he makes the mistake of pulling off one of the gunmen's ski mask. A 9MM beretta is pressed against the boys head and BANG. From there we head off to a local hospital where miraculously the boy survived. It's also interesting to note that due to the bullet lodged in the kids head, a rare brain injury “ataraxia” occurred where he feels no pain and no emotion. Soon enough word gets out that the boy is alive and the gunmen are not too happy about it. It's also revealed that the boys father was a lieutenant who was investigating police corruption and the gunmen are actually corrupt cops. They send a hitman to the hospital to finish the kid off but a kind hearted nurse whisks the child away. She takes the boy to a remote Thai village to live with a Muay Thai master. Over a period of time the master teaches the boy the art of Muay Thai fighting. 

Fast forward twenty years and the boy has grown up to be a Muay Thai fighting machine. He meets up with his step-mother (the nurse who saved him as a boy) where she informs him of what happened to him as a child. This leads Manit (John Foo) to seek out the men responsible for his parents death.

Along the way he befriends a French fighter who was a cop in France in another life. Also he has a run in with an all female gang. It's at this point that the plot becomes overcomplicated with plot threads that never pay off. For instance the corrupt cops are handing any drugs they obtain to the female gang. The all girl gang is somehow associated with an opera singer. They use her music tours all over the globe to smuggle the drugs. This plot point is mentioned, then is totally forgotten. Even a French reporter who's doing a story on the local Thai gangs pops up. She serves no purpose other then to have sex with the hero and be kidnapped. It's just a pointless plot device to let Manit kick some ass. It also makes little to no sense that the grown up Manit speaks English and not Thai considering how he was raised. But this is due to the fact Manit is played by the Chinese/ Irish actor John Foo.

You'd think I'd be tearing this film a new asshole by now with plot threads that go nowhere. But not at all, this is a fight flick that I had a total blast watching! I could have easily seen this film being made in the 80's with say Michael Dudikoff in the lead or as an early 90's vehicle for Van Damme. The film has that old fashioned sort of vibe where the fights come first and the plot comes second. You don't go to watch a flick called Bangkok Revenge for it's plot.

The fights don't disappoint either, John Foo is a very accomplished martial artist. All the fights are choreographed with that excellent bone breaking style that you'd see in a Tony Jaa movie. Funny enough John Foo actually had an on-screen fight with Jaa in the “The Protector”. He also had the lead role of Jin in Dwight Little's underrated live action adaptation of "Tekken". But this film really shows off Foo's fighting chops. Hopefully he'll get more starring roles in films. He's truly a physical specimen and watching him break bones left and right brought back fond memories of Tony Jaa kicking ass and taking names in "Ong Bak". One of the best fight sequences has Foo taking on four guys on a subway car. 

So the plot may be lacking but the Muay Thai fighting more then makes up for that. 

Well Go USA brings Bangkok Revenge to Blu-ray it's a luscious 1080P transfer and is presented in it's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Skin tones and black levels are spot on, contrast is very good. Fine detail is apparent but the film does look a tad soft now and then. But that has to do with the original source material and the fact it was shot digitally on the Red camera.   

The Thai DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio is outstanding. The dialog is crystal clear and you can hear every bone break. It's a track that really lets you immerse yourself in the film. Also take note it's listed as a Thai track but about 98% of the film is spoken in English. 

Extras are slim, all we get is a theatrical trailer. Upon starting up the disk trailers for other Well Go releases play. 

 Not everyone is going to love this flick, but it's the perfect film when you want to just turn your brain off and enjoy some quality action. RECOMMENDED  

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