Archive for the Dan Chupong Category

Panna Rittikrai’s last! The Trailer for Vengeance Of An Assassin is here!

Posted in Dan Chupong, Panna Rittikrai on November 7, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

Thanks to the good folks at Soreelflix for this heads up…Panna Rittikrai has left us with one final film, and goodness, it may outdo the insanity of Bangkok Knockout! The old shaolin man alone is reason enough to see this film, as well as anything with Dan Chupong, but that shot of Dan shooting that guy as they both fall from a building! Damn! I am pumped to see this! They may also be in the running for best martial arts scene on a train…

Here is the trailer:

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Review: Ong Bak 3 (2010)

Posted in Dan Chupong, Panna Rittikrai, Tony Jaa with tags , on April 22, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, Petchtai Wongkamlao

Fight Choreography by Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa

Directed by Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa

Before I delve into this review, let’s go back over the events that led to Ong Bak 3:
Tony Jaa, coming off of the success of The Protector, wanted to direct and star in his own martial arts epic, even though his industry friends Panna Rittikrai and Pratcha Pinkaew warned him not to, that he wasn’t ready to take that kind of a step yet. Tony moved on without them and started shooting Ong Bak 2. Everything seemed to be going well enough until disturbing news trickled out concerning the production: Tony needed more money to finish the movie, and Sahamongkul Films balked at this, since the film was running far over schedule, it was over budget, the film was already clocking in at four hours, and Tony still wasn’t finished yet. They had a right to be worried, and their fears were soon justified…

Suddenly, and without warning, Tony walked off the set one day into the woods. Two months later he turned up on a radio show and cried (literally) about the amount of pressure he was under. If that didn’t get the studio scared, nothing else could, but luckily cooler heads prevailed. Tony was ordered back to the set, and was told that the budget would be increased a little, but on the condition that his old friend Panna Rittikrai step in to help him finish the film, and that last point was non-negotiable. Panna looked at the mess before him and decided that the film needed to be split into two films, and the majority that Tony directed was Ong Bak 2. Most of the reshoots that Panna directed were for Ong Bak 3. And so here we are…

Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 left off, with Tien (Jaa) having been betrayed by his surrogate father Churnung, now captured by Rajasena, the man who ordered the deaths of Tien’s parents. Tien is tortured, and has most of the bones in his body broken. A message from the King spares Tien of execution, and orders Tien to be brought to the King. The King’s messenger and a group of royal soldiers take Tien to a small village where they are tasked to heal Tien. But Rajasena isn’t content to let this stand, and sends a group of assassins to kill Tien and the royal guards. The assassins fail, but all of the royal guards are killed, leaving Tien in the hands of the villagers, one of which was his childhood sweetheart Pim. Soon the villagers are able to heal Tien physically, though he is crippled. Tien must take himself on a spiritual journey to heal himself both within and without, just in time to face Bhuti (Chupong), the crow-like witch that led to his defeat in Ong Bak 2, and now has designs on taking power by killing Rajasena…

Ong Bak 3 has problems that mar it from the great finish it should have been. The first and most glaring problem was the story itself. Ong Bak 2 established the world, the characters, and the parameters they existed in. There were no supernatural shenanigans there, unlike here, where it is clear that Bhuti is some sort of supernatural non-human creature. If Ong Bak 2 had established this, then it wouldn’t be an issue, but they didn’t, so now it becomes a jarring difference. They changed the rules that governed that world, and in telling a story you just can’t do that. An argument can be made that it was hinted at in part 2, but if that was the case then it should’ve stayed that way for part 3, not having black gas invading people’s bodies and Dan Chupong on wires flying around (it was only one scene, but still). The way the story dealt with Rajasena also left a lot to be desired, and had no real emotional payoff. Neither did the fates of the rest of Tien’s pirate friends, who are quickly brushed aside, making their appearances in Ong Bak 2 feel somewhat like a waste of time and potential.

Tony Jaa did a good job as Tien, this time getting to emote a bit more than in the previous film. Wongkamlao was his old comedy self as Mhen, but he needed to be in the film more. Dan Chupong was great as Bhuti, but seemed to lose his menace as the film went along.

The fight choreography was a mixed bag. It was technically good, and the stunt men did some crazy things but overall there was a been-there-seen-that feeling I got as I watched. No fight in the film came close to the fight at the end of Ong Bak 2. The fight that should’ve was the long-awaited battle between Jaa and Chupong, but due to story constraints both men are not allowed to really show their stuff when they finally come face to face. The scenes where Tien trains in the new style he uses, coming from a dance Pim teaches him, is better than nearly everything else in the film.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (6) It was okay for what it was, but didn’t raise the bar above any of Tony’s–and Panna’s–prior efforts. The fights somewhat suffer due to the change of style from Ong Bak 2, and seemed to just expand on fights you’ve already seen. Maybe the budget and time constraints kept them from coming up with something better?

STUNT WORK: (8) Yeah, the film falters, but not because of the stunt men, who toss themselves off elephants and trees and everything else with a great amount of verve and energy.The elephants also deserve a lot of credit for putting up with all of them.

STAR POWER: (7) Tony Jaa’s reputation took a sure hit from this one, and while he made this film new, exciting martial artists came out with great films of their own, raising the bar to a place he has to reach. Chupong was good but an argument could be made that he should’ve been on-screen less. Wongkamlao wasn’t used nearly as much as he should’ve been.

FINAL GRADE: (6) Ong Bak 3 is a passable film but ultimately disappoints in what should have been a rousing conclusion to Tien’s story. Hopefully this will dissuade Tony Jaa from stepping behind the camera for a very long time–until he’s truly ready.

Review: Born to Fight (2004)

Posted in Dan Chupong, Panna Rittikrai, Reviews with tags , on June 15, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Dan Chupong

Choreography and Directing by Panna Rittigrai

Hot on the heels of Ong Bak (although it must be said it came out before Ong Bak, but got re-released after its success) came this little film starring one of Tony’s fellow stuntmen, one many says is comparable to Tony, Dan Chupong. The Onk Bak team pulled out the stops to bring a somewhat propaganda style flag waving action film. But does it work?

The film opens as undercover cops Sarge, the veteran, and Daew (Chupong), the younger one go to buy drugs from the dealer they have been working when the dealer gets a call from his boss, General Yang, who wants the two dead because he knows they are both cops. This leads to a John Woo-style gunfight that escalates as the bad guys commandeer two big rigs, one with Yang on board. Daew jump from a moving van onto one of them, and what follows is an absolutely insane scene after scene of crazy stunts the likes of which we haven’t seen since early Jackie Chan films, as guys go ricocheting from moving vehicle to moving vehicle, and it’s a mild wonder no one was killed during the filming of this, but it lets you know early one what you’re getting into. There is not a subtle bone in this film.

The chase ends with the two cops stopping both trucks, by running one off of a cliff (!) into a warehouse below, and the other explodes and runs through a shanty town Police Story style and runs into the other truck. Daew gets General Yang out on orders from Sarge, who has been shot and is trying to disable a bomb Yang set, and I’m sure he wished he had paid attention during bomb disarming class, but he didn’t, and Sarge blows up. Of course Daew feels guilty for not being able to get back to Sarge in time, and takes Yang in.

Fast forward to a short time later (they don’t explain how much later), and Daew (I’ve been nice enough to put his name-and anyone else’s- into this review so far. They don’t name anyone until this point in the film!) sits sulking while watching a news program talk about Sarge’s death. About this time his high -pitched-voiced pain in the ass (Sister? Cousin?) arrives to tell him that she has been chosen by the Tae Kwon Do association to accompany a group of sports athletes to give relief efforts to a small impoverished village near the border. For reasons unexplained Daew decides to go with her.

We are then introduced to the rest of the group, which really amounts to “Hi, I’m so-and-so, and I play soccer!” and that’s about it for any character development in this film. We then get into the opening credits where we are treated to a montage of the group arriving to meet the villagers and each of the kind-hearted characters then form some sort of bond with one or two of the various villagers-so you just know shit’s about to go bad. Of course every village has a douchebag, and in this case it’s a guy named Tub, which his name alone makes that his damn destiny, so blame his folks for that. He tries to start shit with Daew after seeing Daew getting goo-goo eyes from the cutest girl in the village, whom Tub wants for himself. Think of an Asian Biff from Back the Future. Of course Tub’s Dad knows he’s a giant dirtbag and proceeds to tell anyone who will listen. No sooner has Tub and his posse stepped off than the crap does hit all kinds of fans as armed mercenaries start running into town shooting everything and everyone in sight in scenes that look lifted right from the last Rambo film.

Dozens of innocent people are killed, including Tum, the village “policeman” and the village monk. Even Tub’s father, the village elder is killed. You know there’s gonna be a serious ass-whupping for all of these guys at some point. Soon the Big Bad guy and his entourage arrive and set up shop, and contact the Prime Minister of Thailand to off an exchange of the villagers’ safety for the return of General Yang. What they don’t tell the prime minister is that they’ve brought a nuclear missile to the town and are going to launch it at Bangkok no matter how it all ends. The local swat team tries to go in, and they only succeed in getting more villagers killed. Daew, Tub and the Gymnast are the only ones still roaming free, and Daew goes to get help , but Tub soon gets captured. Daew sneaks around all day and finds out about the nuke that evening. Before he can leave he gets into a fight with two guards, all holding pieces of flaming wood, knocking the crap out of each other. It’s a pretty decent fight, kind of a Tony-Jaa lite kind of scene (That’s not really fair. It’s been said that Dan is just as good a martial artist as Tony Jaa. We’ll find out when he fights Tony in Ong Bak 3)

Because fighting does cause a lot of noise, Daew is captured as well. The next day Daew challenges everyone to fight or die on their knees. At that moment everyone is like,”Meh, knees are okay.” Meanwhile General Yang is freed and is on his way to the village. While everyone ponders what to do as Yang arrives by chopper, the Thailand national anthem plays on the radio the bad guys have on, and everyone gets jacked-up and goes “screw it”. What follows are tons of actions scenes as the entire village rises up to fight, led by the relief workers. These scenes are well done scenes of carnage and rah-rah cheer the little guy moments. Standouts include Daew’s sister fighing the resident bad guy’s best female fighter, and even a little girl using Muay Thai, channeling Tony Jaa to take out the bad guy who killed her dad. Hell, even Tub gets into the act by killing the leader of the mercs with a grenade launcher. Stallone would be proud.

Daew goes to stop the nuke on his own and gets into a series of fights with assorted baddies, showing that Tony Jaa isn’t the only one who can do those acrobatic flips and kicks. The rocket launches, and falls into the sea, thanks to Daew using the lead henchman’s head to bash the navigation controls. Of course, the nuke means there ain’t no fishing in Bangkok for oh, 100 years. Not to be outdone, the baddies rigged explosives around the entire village to have the town wiped out completely. Everyone gets out just in the knick of time as the village is literally blown off the map. In the end good prevailed against evil, and the people stood together, and kicked much ass.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (6) What martial arts there was well done, but nothing we haven’t seen done by Jeeja Yanin and Tony Jaa’s films, and done quite a bit better.

STUNTS: (10) Sweet lord did they do a great job here. Just watch the closing credits to see what kind of work they did. Haven’t seen this level of devil-may-care stuntwork since early Jackie Chan films.

STAR POWER: (4) Dan Chupong doesn’ t have a lot of charisma, and doesn’t really get a chance to showcase his skills among all of the other actors.

FINAL GRADE: (6) A good ode to the action films of the 80’s. The lack of character development, or even the attempt to do so mars the terrific effort the stuntmen made. No single standout star, kind of a Baa Ram Ewe’s greatest hits album. Not a bad film, but not great either.

Review: Ong Bak (2005)

Posted in Dan Chupong, Erik Marcus Schuetz, Panna Rittikrai, Prachya Pinkaew, Tony Jaa with tags , on May 13, 2010 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, Eric Marcus Schuetz

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Fight Choreography by Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa

In 2005 martial arts cinema was growing dim. Jackie Chan was starting to show his age, and both he and Jet were making vastly inferior American martial arts films, and Hong Kong seemed to be stuck in wire-fu films. Donnie Yen was on the verge of breaking through, but before he could out came Ong Bak, which would be the beginning of a flood of martial arts films from Asian countries not named China or Japan, and introduced the world to its newest martial arts star: Tony Jaa.

Jaa plays Ting, a religious young man from a small village named Nong Pradu. Yes, he’s that badass country bumpkin played by so many others over the years, but its a formula that aways seems to work, especially since this is in Thailand. The film opens with a large group of guys who are about to make their chiropractor very happy making their way up a large tree, but what a tree it is, as these 20-some-odd guys run up it, tossing, kicking and punching anyone they run into off as a part of some village ceremony to become the new protector of the village. This scene, sets the stage for the entire film, reminding us of the reckless stuntman abandon not seen since Jackie Chan’s 80’s films, which is a good thing. Ting wins the ceremony, making him the next Ong Bak priest. Holy crap, the baddest ass guy in the town gets to be the damn priest! I’d hate to run into their local constable. Badassery x10! anyhow, Ting is preparing for his christening ceremony, showing him going into some of his Muay Thai forms.

As the rest of the village prepares for the festival and ceremony celebrating Ong Bak, the statue that the people worship of a diety that brings peace and tranquility to their land, embodied by the statue. So of course some total douche has to steal its head. The lucky fool is named Don, who steals it to pay his debts to the local mob boss in Bangkok. Ting leaves for the big city, getting the money for the entire town to fund his journey to get Ong Bak back, and is also given side mission to find a villager’s son named Humlae who had left some years prior for Bangkok, and not heard from since.

We soon find Humlae, now calling himself George, running scam jobs with his partner, a young girl named Muay. They try to scam a local gang, but as it seems happens often, George gets his ass kicked and his money taken. Soon Ting finds him, much to his dismay, as he wants to forget where he came from. George takes Ting in, but no sooner than you can say “sucker” George steals Ting’s money and takes off for the local underground fight club, run by Don’s boss, a guy in a wheelchair and a neck hole thingy he talks through. Ting arrives to get his money (they never say how he finds the place. I’m guessing he’s got an internal Jackass meter), and in doing so is inadvertently engaged in a fight. Well, we’ll call it what it is, a guy running into Ting’s leg and deciding it wasn’t really worth pursuing further. Ting gets his money back, and George see dollar signs. Meanwhile the crops dry up, and a drought hits the entire town. Jeez, armageddon took how long, like 2 days? Damn, that Ong Bak is hardcore.

The next day finds George, for whom no good beating is ever enough, running yet another scam job, this time at a local gambling establishment, and once again bites off more than he and Muay can chew. Ting shows up, and while he doesn’t care if George gets his ass kicked, goes into action when Muay gets slapped around, which would become a pattern for this guy. Dude: learn to defend yourself, asshole. Lady: To the rescue, but only after you get a tooth knocked out! It would be nice for Ting to become a bit proactive with his saves. Peng, the guy they ripped off earlier, shows up, but with more men than Ting can handle, and this leads to a fantastic chase through town, with Ting showing off acrobatics we haven’t seen since Jackie Chan’ s early days. (Note the second reference to JC. If you look closely at Tony’s first two films, they evoke many of Jackie Chan’s actions scenes from the 80’s, which makes a lot of sense. Tony was a kid at that time, and JC was probably his hero growing up. I believe in some interviews he’s admitted as much.) Tony takes some of those acrobatics to the next level, providing some exciting moves that are incredibly graceful. Comic relief abounds in this scene, particularly a moment involving a knife saleswoman.

Soon Ting and George are back at the fight club, this time to find Don. While doing so, a local fight who looks a lot like a stunt double for Slash from Guns ‘n Roses threatens a woman to get Ting to fight him, saying things about Muay Thai style that you just don’t say. Ting ignores him, and a local waiter come in to save her, and gets his ass beaten badly. Once again Ting is like “dude, you should’ve learned how to fight. You’ll learn after you get out of ICU.” Once the same woman tries to save the guy and gets her jaw rearranged for her trouble, Ting goes all “AW HELL NO” and gets into the ring to provide the patrons, and the film audience as well, a clinic on Muay Thai, which is not that Van Damme shit you see in films like Kickboxer. He kicks Slash’s ass, and proceeds to fight a guy who fights with some form of Kung Fu, or maybe Tae Kwon Do, but it doesn’t matter as he kicks that dude’s ass too. The last opponent is the one thing in this film that bothers me. Rather than give us an amazing fighter to end the scene, they give is a guy who looks like a back up rapper for House of Pain throwing shit at Ting, who either blocks or dodges or simply gets hit with all the crap the guy throws at him. This is the film’s weakest moment.

Ting and George track Don to his apartment, which leads to a laughable chase through Bangkok on some sort of vehicle that looks like a large go cart, and Don’s buddies get in the chase well. Maybe it was the way it was filmed, but those things look like they were going 2 miles an hour. The chase ends in Don escaping, but Ting discovers a cache of hidden artifacts that Don’s boss is pissed to lose, so he kidnaps George and Muay, and threatens to kill them unless Ting gets in a ring and fights Saming, his right hand man, who takes some sort of drugs to raise his adrenaline, and beats Ting like a drum.

Of course the bad guys won’t keep their end of the bargain, and attempt to have all of them killed, which really pisses Ting off as he just got his ass kicked for them. This leads Ting to kick ass left and right , and even kick a dude’s ass with his LEGS ON FIRE, which sets a new standard for badassery. After delivering a package marked “ass kick” to Don, Ting and George go to an excavation site where all of the bad guys are gathered, about to take the head of a diety much like Ong Bak illegally, and Ting must deliver another impressive beating to a group of unfortunates. I couldn’t help but notice these stunt men were wearing padding, which I suppose couldn’t be helped, but took me out a little bit. Still awesome scene of Tony delivering fantastic move after move. After warming up, Ting faces Saming again, and this time whoops his ass. I loved it when Saming then stabbed himself with 5 syringes of that adrenaline drug. Even the mob boss is like, “dude, WTF?” It doesn’t really matter as Ting uses his elbows to turn Saming’s skull into the consistency of jello. This is one of like 3 times Ting has to kill this guy, who keep s getting up again and again until Ting has to pile drive his knees into the guys chest and fall 2 stories and implant him into the ground.

Soon Ong Bak is saved, but at the cost of George’s life. Ting and Muay return to the Nong Pradu, and Ting is sworn in as a priest, thanks to George, the man who hated his village enough to leave it but at the same time loved it enough to sacrifice himself to save it. A satisfying ending.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Excellent for a debut film from a new star. The fights really hearken back to the HK work from the 80’s and early 90’s before wire-fu and wuxia films took over. A harder style is refreshing, and looks less like the dance like choreography of Hong Kong films. A great showcase of Muay Thai fighting. The only knock was that scene between Tony and that House of Pain guy. Other than that, good work.

STUNTS: (9) Great stuff from these guys. They took hits and tossed themselves around impressively, and timed everything well, and did some of what looked like horrendous falls. We haven’t seen this level of stunt work since Police Story 1 and 2.

DIRECTION: (8) Prachya Pinkaew does a great job positioning the camera so we can see everything that goes on, and nothing is MTV-edited. The story is simple but flows well, and the actors are convincing for what they are asked to do. He makes sure the camera is on Tony so you can see that it’s all him.

STAR POWER: (8) Tony is a great martial artist, but his acting can use a bit of work. He seethes, but still seems just a little lost on dialogue scenes, but since that isn’t why we watch, nothing is lost there. He’ll improve as he gains experience.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Tony Jaa took the martial arts film world by storm, and this film sent a clear message that China would no longer have a stranglehold on the best martial arts films out there, and this film would pave the way for a new wave of martial artists. A simple story with good fight scenes, and truly showcases a brand new talent. His best is yet to come.