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May 24, 2013

This Girl is Badass

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Petchtai Wongkamlao - 2011
Magnolia Home Entertainment Region 1 DVD

One of the more fun films I saw in Thailand was Bodyguard 2, written, directed and starring Petchtai Wongkamlao, better known as Mum Jokmok by his Thai fans. I'm not sure how well Mum's new film is going to play for most North American viewers, but I had a good time here. Hollywood could probably learn something here, with some imaginative action scenes, truly tasteless and simultaneously hilarious jokes, and kickboxing midgets, all in one modestly budgeted movie! And who needs special effects when you have a crew of gifted stuntmen and women riding bicycles, leaping about, and taking and receiving body blows.

And then there's Jeeja. Don't bother telling me about the Hollywood actress of the day who took a few months to train for an action role. Jeeja Yanin trained for years before her debut in Chocolate. Mum crafted the film especially for her, so Jeeja has the opportunity to have a leading role. The original Thai title is the name of Jeeja's character. If you've seen Jeeja previously, you know what she's capable of as a martial artist. Here she does stunts with a bicycle including using it as a weapon against a gang of bad guys.

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There is some kind of story here, with Jeeja as a bicycle courier, doing deliveries for two rival gangs. She lives with her "uncle", played by Mum, and has a crush on the handsome musician next door. All of this is besides the point, which is to allow a series of goofy situations with even goofier characters. There's one gangster who sings his own theme song upon entering a room, the sartorially challenged owner of the bicycle courier service, and a would-be suitor who, as one joker would put it, has a face for radio; Almost nothing is sacred here with the exception of Mum's character, a video store owner, pointing out that everything in his store is legal. And if you think the boast of the guy who proclaims that he'll be selling DVDs of movies released in theaters earlier in the day is some kind of exaggeration, I can tell you about seeing DVDs of Hollywood movies even before they hit U.S. theaters. Some of the humor here is aimed at cliches about life in Thailand.

That suitor gets the worst of Mum's verbal barbs, being called "Dog phlegm", among other niceties. There are even a couple inquiries as to whether he's the placenta and the actual baby is somewhere else. Yes, Mum's sense of humor is unfiltered, and some of us like it that way. One of the funnier sight gags involves a hood pulling a knife out of his leg, flinging it away, only to have it ricochet against a warehouse pillar and plunge into his arm. Yeah, it's rude and crude, but also truly entertaining.

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Posted by Peter Nellhaus at May 24, 2013 06:55 AM