Near the beginning ofVengeance of an Assassin(2014), there's a three-minute tracking shot that follows the movie's protagonist, a hitman named Natee, as he enters a restaurant and proceeds to kill people in what can only be described as a rampage, with guns, knives, grenades, and his own powerful limbs. The camera remains low, so we only see Natee's legs, and we have to imagine his facial expressions and hand movements as we watch his victims fall to the floor and into the frame. This, along with another extended tracking shot that captures his two-fisted machine-gun battle, are just a couple of the highlights in this final Movie from writer/director/Muay Thai iconPanna Rittikrai.
IfTony Jaais considered the face of Thai martial-arts cinema, then Rittikrai is its heart and soul, the wizard behind the scenes who made Jaa look good—great!—and sometimes stepped in front of the camera himself. WhileVengeance of an Assassin(you gotta love those generic action titles) has its limitations, it's a fitting swan song for a true legend who's responsible for many films we know and love.
The movie shows Natee's indoctrination into his vicious career (through a hasty montage), his expertise at what does (as evidenced in the aforementioned tracking shots), and his desire to avenge his parents' murders, the backstory that serves as fuel for his bloodlust.
Natee is played by Dan Chupong, who co-starred in Rittikrai's classic,Born to Fight(2004), and who is a dazzling performer in his own right. For example, he makes a potentially absurd fight, in which he uses a license plate and windshield wiper blade as deadly weapons, into something delightfully (if brutally) satisfying.
When Natee is charged with protecting a princess (Kessarin Ektawatkul) from the very man (Kowit Wattanakul) behind his parents' deaths, he's led back to his childhood home, where he left behind his drunk uncle (Ping Lumprapleng) and younger brother (Nantawooti Boonrapsap)—who just happens to have been picking up fighting skills from old VHS tapes.
Vengeance of an Assassin Official U.S. Trailer
The movie loses its way when it makes several attempts to wring out some emotion from the characters—and the audience. The VERY LOUD acting only serves as a distraction, with Boonrapsap, the younger brother, shouldering the more overwrought scenes in which he cries and screams to the edge of reason. However, he ably makes up for it with his martial-arts talent, at one point expertly defending himself with a chicken bone. You read that right. A chicken bone. And it's awesome.
Unfortunately, an action sequence on a speeding train that's meant to the centerpiece ofVengeance of an Assassinis practically ruined by badly rendered CGI and green-screen effects.
If you can overlook the movie's occasional missteps, there's pleasure to be had here, even if the film's closing dedication to Panna Rittikrai manages to be genuinely sad and heartfelt.
Thai Movie Central Rating
How to Watch the Full Movie (with Thai Audio and English Subtitles)
—Buy the DVD.
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—Also available to watch for Netflix subscribers.
—The Thai title of this movie is ตัวอย่าง เร็วทะลุเร็ว (transliteration: tawyang rew thalu rew), which roughly means "an example of something that's quick passing something that's quick."
—Movie images and video © Sahamongkol Film International.