October 17, 2005


torture/horror flick, HELL, screening at AFMDespite continual warnings that it's in a state of "crisis," the Thai film industry keeps popping up all over. Here's the yin and yang of the matter: you've got art films that underperform at home (THE TIN MINE) and gutcruncher horror flicks that look like a throwback to the 80's Ho Meng-hua movies usually set in Thailand (ART OF THE DEVIL 2):

THE TIN MINE - Screen Daily's review of Thailand's submission for "Best Foreign Film" at next year's Academy Awards, calls the film "Devoid of any meaningful social, racial or sexual context..." and says it's "pleasant matinee fare."

ART OF THE DEVIL 2 - an ultra-gross trailer for ART OF THE DEVIL 2 is hosted by Twitch as a downloadable WMV file here. You have been warned: there's some "AUDITION with a blowtorch" footage that is genuinely nauseating in this trailer.

Also, there's a still on the right for another torture/horror flick, HELL, that's screening at AFM. Thanks to WiseKwai for that one.

October 17, 2005 at 10:31 AM in News | Permalink


Curious to know more about Ho Meng-Hua films set in Thailand. I know SHAOLIN HAND LOCK is, but what else?

Posted by: Frisco Brian | Oct 18, 2005 11:21:21 AM

Well, it looks like I mixed two things up in my head. Ho Meng-hua's OILY MANIAC was shot in Malaysia, not Thailand as I misremembered. Also, BLACK MAGIC WITH BUDDHA was shot in Indonesia, not Thailand. I guess I'm so used to Hong Kongers being scared of Thailand (SEVENTH CURSE, ETERNAL EVIL OF ASIA) that I forget that they're pretty much scared of everywhere in Southeast Asia (HOLY VIRGIN VS. THE EVIL DEAD, RED SPELL SPELLS RED).

I seem to be muffing it a lot recently, and can only apologize and chalk it up to lack of sleep. I'll do better, I promise.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Oct 18, 2005 11:32:03 AM

I'm glad you muffed up, because I now have a whole list of titles to look for. I'm primarily curious about Hong Kong films set/filmed in Thailand, but also about those set/filmed in other SEA countries.

Posted by: Frisco Brian | Oct 18, 2005 12:46:48 PM

Have you seen STONE AGE WARRIORS? I think it's Stanley Tong's directorial debut, and it's an ultra-lowbudget flick set in Indonesia with Nina Li. The first half - meh. The second half - komodo dragons attack, scorpions attack, pretty much everything that isn't nailed down attacks. Stick around for the end credits where you watch the actresses having genuine breakdowns from the grueling shoot.

Also, the Jade Leung SATIN STEEL is set in Indonesia as well and while it's totally brainless, the action is pretty smoking hot.

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Oct 18, 2005 1:40:04 PM

There was mid-60's Shaw Bros shot-in-Thailand "Crocodile River," starring Shih Yen (mother of Stephen Fung Tak Lun)

Posted by: oj | Oct 18, 2005 11:37:24 PM

While we've gotten away from Ho Meng-Hua films, in the early 70s, Chang Cheh, David Chiang and Ti Lung were in Bangkok to make the kick-boxing drama, Duel of Fists. It's a great showcase of bad 70s fashions. Also, Bruce Lee's The Big Boss, was made in rural Thailand.

Posted by: Wise Kwai | Oct 19, 2005 6:14:26 AM

Yep, I've got CROCODILE RIVER, DUEL OF FISTS and THE BIG BOSS. And GOLDEN BUDDHA, in which one of the characters grabs a brick from the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya and uses it as a projectile weapon.

But STONE AGE WARRIORS and SATIN STEEL are new titles for me. Thanks!

Posted by: Frisco Brian | Oct 19, 2005 11:56:27 AM

I’m sure it would come as a surprise to TIN MINE director Jira Maligool that his latest film, which was intended as an entirely mainstream crowd-pleaser, is considered by some an “art film”. Having prepared the English subtitles for this perfectly innocuous if rather unfocused movie, I’m surprised as well. In what way do you consider the wholly old-fashioned storytelling, simple emotional chords, and decidedly ninth-grade sense of humor that constitutes THE TIN MINE -- successfully or otherwise -- to in any way approach the status of “art film”?

If I were a subscriber, I’d love to read more about Screen Daily’s concerns that the film is, "Devoid of any meaningful social, racial or sexual context..." -- particularly as I’m sceptical that anyone writing for that paper has a clue about the racial, social or sexual contexts of Thailand in the mid-20th century. Indeed, the film does contain some, albeit completely denatured and/or unexamined, degree of social and even racial context, though I’ll be damned if I can figure out just what sort of sexual context this most decidedly desexualized film might require. But that’s not Kaiju’s fault -- guess I can't blame Grady for everything!

Posted by: Chuck Stephens | Oct 20, 2005 11:52:21 PM

Oh, you can blame me for everything. Nine out of ten times you'll be right.

I haven't seen TIN MINE yet, but had heard it described as an "artsy" film, a "coming of age" film and a "thoughtful" film - three words that usually signal "arthouse flick" to me. But if I'm wrong about that I stand corrected.

Of course, in the US, any movie with subtitles is almost immediately considered an art film, so I should probably just retitle this whole blog as "Kaiju Arthouse".

As for Screen Daily, they've been grumpier than a pack of senior citizens up past their bedtime. They've seemed particularly harsh on Asian movies recently but if you're really interested in more on THE TIN MINE, here's their opening paragraph:
"A picture that presents life working underground as an uplifting, character-building experience is nothing if not an oddity. And while this attitude should bestow on The Tin Mine – Thailand’s best foreign language Oscar submission – a distinctiveness all of its own, it is hard to guess how much weight such an accolade will carry with members of voting bodies."

Here's the full paragraph from which I quoted:
"Devoid of any meaningful social, racial or sexual context, Jira Maligool's second picture plays as pleasant matinee fare, though one suspects few Western audiences – especially among the young - could be more than amused by such an innocent approach."

And here's their take on the sex:
"As for sex, the only woman around, Laiad (Donlaya Mudcha), a local girl introduced late on, is as prettily innocent as any virgin has ever been in Disney heaven - and that's how she stays to the very end, with no one dreaming of changing her status. Any other kind of sex is of course unmentionable in this context."

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Oct 24, 2005 12:21:57 PM

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