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Allaby's Avatar
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I watched Chocolate (2008). Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the film stars JeeJa Yanin as an autistic teen who uses her martial arts skills to beat up people who owe money to her sick mother. The fight sequences were very well done. The stunts and choreography are impressive and entertaining. Yanin does a fantastic job in the lead role and is very likeable. Her character projects both innocence and strength. The story didn't always work for me though and could have been better developed, but I still enjoyed the film. My rating is a
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Chocolate (2008)

Big plus is JeeJa Yanin who's very skilled at martial arts on screen and does some amazing stunts, that must have hurt! She's also really good as an actress. Portraying an autistic teen for an actor has got to be as tough as all of those spinning drop kicks she did. Her character made the movie palatable to me. My favorite moments were when we're learning about her home life and how autism effects her and her family. I really felt for her and her mom during those scenes. I liked her 'adopted' brother too, though he didn't have much to do as an actor, but as a character he gave Zen much needed support.

I suppose the martial arts fighting was well done and expertly choreographed, but it's just not my thing and I got bored with it after the third fight in the ice house. I wanted more of Zen's life and her struggle with autism. Of course it's a martial arts film not a drama so I cant' fault the film for that.

I disliked the overly cartoonish beginning with the gangsters and all the guns...What's with turning the guns on their side when pointing them at someone? I'm pretty sure bullets aren't flat! I never knew exactly who these people were either, other than being cliched baddies for the sake of conflict. And why did they care if she wrote a letter to her husband in Japan? I mean what kind of motive was that for them to go bonkers?

However I liked the subject of an autistic girl being a martial arts expert. IMO no way is that insensitive, in fact I'd call it empowering. Though I do have to admit the match up with the Tourettes opponent felt very exploitative..kind of like watching a dwarf throwing contest in a bar, you know it's wrong but you can't help being fascinated by it.

I wish the film had been about Zen learning to find some inner peace by mastering martial arts...she ends up competing in a martial arts competition where of course she has to go up against an uncouth champion who will use her autism against her. That would've gave the film more heart. Chocolate could've been Thailand's answer to the Karate Kid, instead it borrows to heavily from other auteur directors.
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The trick is not minding
There's some interesting and varied films to choose from for your starter, happy watching
Probably going with Mother since it’s available on Hulu, but Drunken Angel, Black Rain, and Tears of the Black Tiger will be next in some form. Along with Dust in the Wind.



rbrayer's Avatar
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Daimajin (1966)

Well, this was something interesting. I definitely never would have watched it without you guys, so thank you! Calling this a monster movie would be misleading. This is a samurai fairy tale with a classic good v. evil framing. The filmmakers do an excellent job setting up Ōdate Samanosuke as pure evil, making the story especially compelling.

As others have noted, the "monster" does not appear until the last 20 minutes of the film. I think this is to the film's advantage. The knowledge that it is lurking creates suspense throughout the film and, when it finally does appear, it's impact is heightened by its prior absence. Additionally, the "monster" is incredible, one of the best special effects displays I've ever seen, particularly given the practical limitations of the time. The incredible sound of the shaking must have influenced films like Jurassic Park all those years later. That and the amazing score are mesmerizing. 3.5/5.



Taking ass and kicking names

Chocolate

Saying bad stuff about movies isn't something I enjoy at all, but I didn't really care for this film. I think the pacing was kinda jank, the story wasn't that good, the film looked cheap and dingy, and I didn't actually care for the choreography.

Since I don't really enjoy this part of the process, I will just list out my feelings as to why my last sentence is true:

1. The pacing was weird to me, because even though the opening sequence felt like it took way to long to set everything up, it was still a bunch of information being thrown at us without any care put into it. It was almost like the filmmakers didn't really care about all of this stuff, but felt it necessary to justify the following action. We go from a Mexican standoff with hostages to romantic montage, to a forced breakup so quickly that no emotional connection can be established.

2. Not caring for the story is probably tied somewhat into my previous point, but I don't think the story is the main concern in a martial arts movie, so that's fine.

3. A film can look cheap and dingy to its advantage at times, but I don't think that applies here. It looked cheap, but maybe it was. I don't know much about the budget. The butcher fight scene had a red tint to it that I believe was intended to look like a cool glowing red stylized arthouse action fight scene, but it just looked dull and kind of distracting.

5. The choreography: so, this might just me picking nits. I fully understand that this won't apply to everyone, so just grain of salt this opinion of mine. I had hard time getting into this fight scenes that look relatively impressive with this young girl who is clearly giving it her all. I just don't think the fight scenes were well developed. There should have been more weight put behind this girl's knockout blows. There are a few good examples of the strikes she threw that looked really good: the push type kicks (specifically front kicks to the body), the regular round kicks she threw to the guys hanging out windows where it looked like her shin connected to their heads, knees, and elbows. I don't want this to come off as me being some kind of MMA training fightbro douchebag guy, but after watching so much MMA and listening to podcasts about different fighting techniques, some times movie fight scenes can lose me a little bit. I had a hard time buying some of her round kicks to the head that landed with her foot, her hook kicks weren't "believably" KOing anybody either. There was also a scene where her and her opponent ran at each other and she ran up him and came down with a knee tap to the forehead when it would have been way more impactful and believable and awesome if she would have ran up and delivered the knee to the jaw on the way up. Once again, picking nits, but this sort of thing kept happening the whole film and bugging the hell out of me. I loved the low flying elbow and knee knockouts she did though, those were really nice.

I think the little girl's performance was pretty great. I have no clue how realistic it was for a kid with autism assuming that's what they were actually going for. I think she did a good job of being sympathetic, plus I loved it when she started impersonating Bruce Lee, I legit got kinda hype for that. I really don't enjoy having that much negative stuff to say, and it's not even like I hated the film. I just think the fighting scenes could have been handled more thoughtfully and done more to cover up would be weaknesses of a character. I really think they should have done more to make her more brutal and I would have been totally bought in completely. More knees and elbows, more push kicks and sweeps to get opponents on their knees in front of her, maybe more of throwing her body around like a pinball.

EDIT: gonna pretend I went from 3 to 5 on purpose.



I don't want this to come off as me being some kind of MMA training fightbro douchebag guy, but after watching so much MMA and listening to podcasts about different fighting techniques, some times movie fight scenes can lose me a little bit. I had a hard time buying some of her round kicks to the head that landed with her foot, her hook kicks weren't "believably" KOing anybody either. There was also a scene where her and her opponent ran at each other and she ran up him and came down with a knee tap to the forehead when it would have been way more impactful and believable and awesome if she would have ran up and delivered the knee to the jaw on the way up
I love to nitpick myself, so I'll nitpick your nitpick a little.

You don't have to land kicks with a shin or knee to KO someone. As you mentioned MMA, let's look at Anderson Silva's front kick:



That doesn't look like much compared to some roundhouse shin KOs, but there are many ways to land a KO hit.

And about a knee to forehead vs a knee to the jaw. You can ask Cyborg Santos if a knee to the forehead has enough impact:

I "hide" this because even the preview image is gross - contains serious injury  


I'm not denying the flaws of the fights, but I just think they're definitely above average. And like I said, you need some suspension of disbelief for a movie where a little woman is beating dozens of men. You can't make that realistic because it just doesn't happen in real life.
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Yeah the problem I had with that was she was clearly doing Kung Fu but she learned Muay Thai...
And the actress has a Taekwondo background But yeah, she was learning kungfu from the films she saw.



Taking ass and kicking names
I love to nitpick myself, so I'll nitpick your nitpick a little.

You don't have to land kicks with a shin or knee to KO someone. As you mentioned MMA, let's look at Anderson Silva's front kick:



That doesn't look like much compared to some roundhouse shin KOs, but there are many ways to land a KO hit.

And about a knee to forehead vs a knee to the jaw. You can ask Cyborg Santos if a knee to the forehead has enough impact:

I "hide" this because even the preview image is gross - contains serious injury  


I'm not denying the flaws of the fights, but I just think they're definitely above average. And like I said, you need some suspension of disbelief for a movie where a little woman is beating dozens of men. You can't make that realistic because it just doesn't happen in real life.
Both of the examples you mention are not the kind of thing I have a problem with. The Anderson Silva front kick is awesome, I remember watching that live. It's also a front kick, my problem was with the round kicks that slapped with the foot. It's a different type of impact. I mention enjoying the push kicks, which are different than Anderson's front kick, but a lot of the push kicks are front kicks.

Also the specific knee I had a problem with is NOT the same type of knee that murdered Cyborg. That knee was actually the same type of motion I would have preferred, because that was an upward motion instead of going above a person and changing your momentum and tapping on them on the way down. I mentioned the specific body parts just as an example of where I thought the momentum would have carried her if she had been going the same route.

I just rewatched the specific knee I was bothered with. It's not as bad as I remembered, but it's still not as good as a regular flying knee would have been.


It's at about 2:30 in the video

here is the knee you mentioned.
EDIT: you posted the video in the spoiler wrap.

Page connects on the way up like I would have preferred.


I like the knee at 1:15 a lot. Looks brutal and badass, the kind of thing that makes me buy into this character being a threat.

And I am not asking for a realistic fight, because a realistic fight would have been two men grab her and they all kill her. But to help my suspension of disbelief and to make it look really good, I mentioned a few of the things that would have helped me out.



Just snipped what I wanted to reply to.

Both of the examples you mention are not the kind of thing I have a problem with. The Anderson Silva front kick is awesome, I remember watching that live. It's also a front kick, my problem was with the round kicks that slapped with the foot. It's a different type of impact. I mention enjoying the push kicks, which are different than Anderson's front kick, but a lot of the push kicks are front kicks.
I don't get the issue with the roundhouse kicks connecting with the foot. Muay Thai isn't the only martial art with effective kicks Here's a random kick KO video from kickboxing and all of these land either with foot or ankle area.



I just rewatched the specific knee I was bothered with. It's not as bad as I remembered, but it's still not as good as a regular flying knee would have been.
I get what you mean. I think that particular knee is sort of a tribute to Tony Jaa's special downward elbow (obviously the director made Jaa's first films but JeeJa also trained with Jaa's camp for the film):




Taking ass and kicking names
I don't get the issue with the roundhouse kicks connecting with the foot. Muay Thai isn't the only martial art with effective kicks Here's a random kick KO video from kickboxing and all of these land either with foot or ankle area.
Like I said, it is nitpicky, it's also a thing that I've tried to make clear that is a specific nuisance to me and I understand why it might not be to others.

Yeah, you can knock someone out with a kick when it's the foot connecting, specifically more likely when it's the ankle connecting. Often times those kicks will be connecting on the button with someone leaning into them, and those kicks look to have some weight behind them, some oomph. Taekwondo, which is what the actress is good at, is more about scoring points than getting KOs, but obviously any type of kick to the head could potentially knock someone out. Snap kicks, like she throws, just won't knock everybody out every time you throw one, especially if you are young girl fighting grown men. I guess my issue is that for those specific kicks I am bothered by, the end result (the henchman collapsing unconscious never to be heard from again) didn't match the strike. Those strikes seemed like they would knock the dude off-balance, then maybe the knockout blow follows it. I am not trying to sway anyone's opinion though, I hope people liked it more than I did, and it seems they did.



Like I said, it is nitpicky, it's also a thing that I've tried to make clear that is a specific nuisance to me and I understand why it might not be to others.

Yeah, you can knock someone out with a kick when it's the foot connecting, specifically more likely when it's the ankle connecting. Often times those kicks will be connecting on the button with someone leaning into them, and those kicks look to have some weight behind them, some oomph. Taekwondo, which is what the actress is good at, is more about scoring points than getting KOs, but obviously any type of kick to the head could potentially knock someone out. Snap kicks, like she throws, just won't knock everybody out every time you throw one, especially if you are young girl fighting grown men. I guess my issue is that for those specific kicks I am bothered by, the end result (the henchman collapsing unconscious never to be heard from again) didn't match the strike. Those strikes seemed like they would knock the dude off-balance, then maybe the knockout blow follows it. I am not trying to sway anyone's opinion though, I hope people liked it more than I did, and it seems they did.
Heh, I also have an antipathy towards the Olympic Taekwondo (not necessarily because it's points-based, but because of the awful habits these fighters learn from it - hands dows cause no punching to the head and constant jumping). I also agree about the snap kicks, but that's just a form "lacking visual impact" that's far too often missing in these films (that's a very big issue in Chinese kungfu films, too).

To me, the rest is just the suspension of disbelief. JeeJa is, by far, one of the best female action stars, and for a realist (in this case as an opposite to feminist) they're the ones I have to compare her to. I think it's impossible for someone like her to have a visual impact on all of her strikes in an extended fight - it's bothersome to a degree, but nothing you can do.

But yeah, I don't (fully) agree with your ideas regarding kicks. Many KO hits (punch or kick) look like glances, and I'd presume that the vast majority of kick KO's across all the sports are either foot or ankle connections.





Drunken Angel / 醉いどれ天使 (1948)
Directed By: Akira Kurosawa
Starring: Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune, Chieko Nakakita


Drunken Angel is a highly symbolic film that critiques not only the Western occupation of Japan after World War II and its influence on Japanese culture, but traditional Japanese ideals of honour and sacrifice as well. The heart of Japan is plagued by poison, both from outside sources and from within, just like the town's water is swamped by pollution. Wardrobe and musical choices work well to reinforce these themes, but unfortunately I found little substance beneath them.

My problem with Drunken Angel is that the plot doesn't seem to go anywhere. There's no major conflict at the centre of the story, just personal issues that aren't fleshed out enough to be the main focus. It feels like a slice of life film, and while there's nothing inherently wrong with that, I don't typically find them very compelling. There isn't much in the way of character development or growth either, which coupled with the aforementioned lack of conflict, makes for a rather dull viewing experience.

Perhaps that lack of direction and resolution are meant to be symbolic as well, but I can't help but feel that the film would be far more interesting if the narrative was told more from Matsunaga's perspective instead of the doctor's. Matsunaga's diagnosis throws his entire life into disarray, but we only see his struggle from an outsider's point of view. To see him more intimately question his beliefs and loyalty would've been far more engaging to me. While I do appreciate certain aspects of Drunken Angel, I think I just expected more from it.

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(unless you count Mifune looking like a silent-film era vampire at the end)
I was going to point that out, but forgot. I actually liked the makeup, as it was both fitting and mildly amusing at the same time.




Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow
(Woo-Ping Yuen 1978)

I can totally understand why people like these comedy-martial arts exploitative films. Not really exploitative of course, but they do have the same feel as what is often called black exploitation films from the 1970s. Basically both are small budget, made for the drive-in and deliver lots of cheesy fun.

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
reminded me of the Keystone Cops silent movies, very slapstick and intentionally so. Especially with those fun, over the top sound effects and grunts...Oh and the crazy twist of the hand movements too. Jackie Chan as a misfit paired with the old Kung Fu master was a good comedy pairing. The old master was funny. Loved the way he caught all those flies in his hand. The funniest part was Chan's attack of the Cat Claw move!

So this is hard for me to rate as I'd say it's successful and doing what it want's to do, it's just that I'm not into martial arts, but at least the comedy was zany enough for some laughs.