Heroes of the East

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Heroes of the East

Film discussion and banter

    Tears of the Black Tiger (2000: Wisit Sasanatieng: Thailand)


    Posts : 401
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Tears of the Black Tiger (2000: Wisit Sasanatieng: Thailand) Empty Tears of the Black Tiger (2000: Wisit Sasanatieng: Thailand)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch Tue Aug 23, 2011 12:29 pm

    Will move to correct place once we get an Asian subforum:

    Tears of the Black Tiger (2000: Wisit Sasanatieng: Thailand) ***/**** (maybe a half-star more; definitely not a half-star less) original title Fah talai jone which is a Thai herbal medicine

    Combine several Thai cinematic arts forms from the past, Thai Likay theater, an American, Sergio Leone (at least one scene references Once Upon a Time in the West) and Thai western influence, a beautiful but bizarre palate of pastel and harsh colors, extreme violence, melodrama, songs, non-linear storyline and you get the unique Tears of the Black Tiger. It was incredibly popular in Thailand helping spawn a novel based on the script and a radio play. It was even shown at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. After hearing about this for years I finally got to watch this and I am glad I did. It is quite an uncommon viewing experience.

    Chartchai Ngamsan (The Tsunami Warrior; he also worked with Wisit in a Thai Wrangler Jean commercial, you have to see it) is Dum the Black Tiger a taciturn good guy working as the number one henchman for a bad gang dressed like cowboys in a b-western clothes led by Fai who has no mercy for those who cross him. Fai’s former number one is Mahesuan (Supakorn Kitsuwon: Ong Bak 2), Dum’s blood brother who has a laugh like a Shaw Brother’s villain and a completely forced deep voice which is hilarious (and a good reason to stay away from the English dub). He is jealous towards Dum because of his quicker draw and the fact he lost his highest standing with Fai.

    Dum is a peasant lower caste boy who fell in love with a high caste Supanburi province politician’s daughter Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi) in his youth and has pined the years away loving her. They both have not forgotten each other. Years later they re-found each other, but she has a forced engagement to a police captain because of her father. This does not stop him from protecting her from local ruffians and from them both loving each other. But she does not know he is a criminal. Will this affect her affection?

    There are some lulls in the storyline which goes over the romantic triangle too long, though I have to admit it did make you feel (sometimes frustrated) for the doomed romance. Action aficionados might be more annoyed by this that I was. There are also some plot issues with attempted suicides, character changes and situations that sometimes felt forced or not belonging to the plot -- though to be fair, the film was never meant to be realistic.

    The strengths outweigh the negatives though. This is a particularly peculiar film and I do not often see films that take as many chances as this one and not end up a befuddled mess. It is a lot of fun with its bizarre mixture of comedy, action and romance. I feel several scenes are so interesting that I do not want to spoil them by describing them to those who have not seen this. Tears of the Black Tiger is a beautifully directed movie with an engaging use of non-realistic colors, painted expressionistic backdrops and some of the most interesting cinematography choices I have seen since Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985). While I have seen a decent amount of Thai cinema it has been mostly relegated to Thai action cinema of Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong and Panna Rittikrai with a few art and epic films thrown in. This is now among my favorites from that country along with Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong. Now I have to find Wisit Sasantieng’s next film Citizen Dog.

    Make sure you get the uncut version (110m) of the film such as the Magnolia R1 release (2007), luckily they were able to save this from Mirimax who had sat on the rights to this movie for over five years, which besides the Thai language release (both 2.0 and 5.1 mixes) also has an English dub (both 2.0 and 5.1 mixes) and a “Making of TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER” extra TV special that is 45 minutes long. It is a great extra with the production team, the actors discussing everything related to the making of the film. There is much discussion of past Thai cinema which is useful to anyone learning more about the older cinematic days there. The cut version takes out the extreme violence which I think hurts the flow of the film since there are some integral scenes that were shortened.

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