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Bangkok Knockout Review: Everything But the Kitchen Sink

By Alex Goldberg | Film | August 12, 2011 | Comments ()

By Alex Goldberg | Film | August 12, 2011 |


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This was easily the most fun I've had watching an action movie in the past few years. I'm not sure if it was the crowd -- Montreal Fantasia Festival crowds are unusually raucaus and react to mostly anything spectacular -- but this was ... man, this was spectacular. I've never seen so much human carnage happen all at once, except in a few video games. And really, this is what the movie would feel like if it weren't for some clever writing and terrible, mind-blowingly awful, hilariously over-the-top bad acting. In essence, it's got everything you could ever want in a martial arts movie.

The story lends itself to martial arts shenanigans right from the start. A group of stunt workers nicknamed Fight Club win a chance to work making movies in Hollywood. While celebrating, they get drugged and kidnapped in an abandoned building, forced to confront an endless array of baddies as part of a live action show that random strangers with money can gamble on. Each time a member (or members) of Fight Club goes up against a baddy, there's a certain amount the viewers are allowed to bet with odds made haphazardly by the ringleader, Mr. Snead (Speedy Arnold) (What the hell is a Speedy Arnold?). Funny that the name suits the tone of that one little room of gamblers, as each one is hilarious in their own right. There's a Russian who speaks English, horribly, without added subtitles, so the audience kind of laughs because everyone else is looking at one another asking, "Did you understand what the hell he just said?" Same for the Asian woman (I assume she's Thai, but it's not very clear), who's English is even worse. You've got a black American who doesn't speak much, a Thai man who you're supposed to hate (he's betraying his own people), but can't muster the energy to do anything but chuckle at his terrible terrible awful atrocious putrid acting. In other words, high comedy.

Because this is a movie that's based on martial arts, the entire thing hinges on the stunts and choreography. So while you're laughing at the winks to the audience and the so bad it's-good-then-bad-then-good -again acting, you're also marveling at the sheer size, volume and intensity of the Thai boxing and Kung fu. Each scene begins as a versus match from a video game, but then escalates to include other fighters, knives, swords, wood planks, metal beams, axes, an armored car, flamethrower, motorbike, guns, and well ... pretty much everything. By the end of the movie, it's a free for all of insane kung-fu-ery, with the camera just filming all the actors and stuntmen literally just going at it, nonstop, for a good half hour.You almost think they're really trying to beat the crap out of each other. And when you think it's all over, and the good guys win, it goes on, and gets better and more ridiculous.

Topping everything off are winks to the audience about how ridiculous the entire thing is, from the seemingly purposely terrible acting, to a few good fighting gags, and great one liners. It's self-conscious, but in the best way, and it's really just the cherry on the cake that makes you leave with a shit-eating grin once the film's over. I'm almost shocked that I still can't find any information about this movie online, let alone an actual cast (I completely forgot who was who in the melee of fighting, I think one guy was named Pod, and Mop, and maybe there was a Joy in there too). It's too bad, because while it might be low budget, and by no means would I call it GOOD, but calisse de merde, it's pretty fucking awesome.

Alex Goldberg is currently reporting from the Fantasia Film Festival. He hails from Montréal, Québec, and is a Ph.D. in the field of molecular and cell biology. He's an expert in the fields of aging and cancer research and table soccer. His organization, Québec Table Soccer Federation, can be found here.



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