Reviews, articles, rants & ramblings on the darker side of the media fringe

Chocolate ***½

I was given this DVD by a friend at work, his description of it made it sound like fun… Zin (Ammara Siripong), the former girlfriend of a Thai mob boss falls for Mashashi (Hiroshi Abe), a rival Japanese gangster. After much bloodshed her boss banishes them both, Musashi to Japan and Zin with her young autistic daughter Zen to an apartment in a poorer part of the city. Blessed with incredible reflexes Zen spends her days watching and absorbing the students at the martial arts school next door. Zin adopts a young boy Moom after seeing him bullied in the streets, he and Zen (JeeJa Yanin) develop a close bond as he looks after her and helps to ‘train’ her reflexes. When Zin is taken to hospital and needs chemotherapy Moom looking for money to pay the bills discovers a ledger listing business men who still owe Zin money from her former life. He goes to get the money and takes Zen with him… as each business man refuses to pay Zen has to use her skills to fight more and more foes. A showdown with Zins former boss is inevitable…

You get what you’d expect from Prachya Pinkaew, the director of Thailand’s biggest ever box-office hit, Ong-Bak.  Chocolate features similarly exciting action set-pieces with the added twist that this time it is an autistic teenage girl doing the ass-kicking. Star Yanin is a decent actress, great fighter and good looking; she’s obviously a real star in the making. The best thing about the action is, like Ong-Bak before it, there is no wire work, what you see is real even if some of it is slightly sped up for effect.

As a movie it’s well made for the martial arts genre, although as is usual with this type of fare the first third of the movie, the story set-up and character development feels rushed. Of course it is, the whole point here is to get to the scenes with Yanin kicking the shit out of the bad guys and she does so for two thirds of the movie. Prachya could learn to use another transition other than fade to black to end each and every one of the opening scenes but that is a small complaint.

It’s an interesting angle for a martial arts action movie to take and I’m no expert on autism, Rainman being the extent of my limited knowledge, but for a movie making such a big deal about its action realism, maybe a slightly different approach to the ‘realism’ of the script would help lift the movie out of limited action-fan-only territory.

Quality: 3 out of 5 stars

Any good: 4 out of 5 stars (great fun if you like this sort of thing)

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