Being an assassin has its rules – always keep your eyes on your target, be strict on your mission, execute without any hesitation and there is no room for negotiation. Each killer has his own background, but all of them have trade in their blood and losses. For Natee, his only reason in becoming an assassin and leaving behind his brother and his uncle is to find the truth about his parents’ death. It is the issue that he has always doubted and felt that uncle Thanom was hiding something from him. While protecting Ploy, a niece of a local business man from a group of assassins, he was asked to kill the girl instead.
Tonight I had the pleasure of attending the premier of Panna Rittikrai‘s last film before his sad, sudden and untimely death, Vengeance Of An Assassin. The usual pomp and stance of a premier was very much dialed down for this one as the guest of honour was unable to attend and it was more a memorial to his memory than a promotion for the film, as rightly it should be. It was very emotional, one of the actors in particular brought a tear to my eye, even though I could not understand most of what he said, the emotion in his voice and on his face talking about his old friend Panna was clear for all. So the question is, was the film a fitting last testament to the memory of Panna?
Whilst Panna has made some awesome films, like many of the action greats he has had his share of potboilers too, and some films that are kind of 50/50. I am never sure what to expect going in. I am pretty well versed in his works, I have around 100 films that he has worked on as extra, star, producer, action choreographer and director. Following the disappointing Tom Yum Goong 2, I was a little apprehensive going in.
The trailer has some great moments and some terrible effects which I had hoped looked bad because they were still working on them, sadly not. The train stuff looks just as bad in the final film as it does in the trailer which is a real shame as it was a real weak point in what was a pretty decent film.
Trying not to give too much away, it is the classic tale of a kid whose parents were murdered, and when he comes of age he sets out to learn the skills necessary to set upon a bloody path of vengeance. And it is VERY bloody!
Most of Panna‘s films during his career had a lot of comedy and whilst this film still has some, it is toned down a bit. This film is pretty dark, bleak and there are many deaths, some of them quite nasty. It has many great stunts including many ‘OUCH! That must have hurt!’ moments which got a great response from the audience.
Whilst it does suffer from poor scripting as seemingly almost every Thai film sadly does, the action whilst mostly gun and stunt based is pretty great and doesn’t get boring. The first 30 minutes were good and I was really enjoying it but after the lead character has trained and become an assassin, this is where the scripting gets weak and loses a lot of momentum. I also didn’t like the way it ended as there were a few plot holes that should have been written out too.
There are two sequences in the film that were shot in seemingly one take. They’re not as long as the one from Tom Yum Goong (2005), but still quite lengthy and they were very complex, and by far, the best parts of the film as they were very impressive.
Overall, Vengeance Of An Assassin contains some of Panna and his stunt team’s best work. It is not overall his best film for me, although actionwise it was pretty awesome. If not for poor scripting, bad effects in the train sequence and some plot holes this could have been a masterpiece! It is a real shame.
As the credits rolled and the film ended, I felt an immense sadness that it is the last time I will ever go to see a new Panna film. He was coming to the end of his Sahamongkol contract and who knows what he might have gone on to do with his newfound freedom?! Sadly we will never know.
If you are a fan of Panna‘s other films then you will want to see this. If you love great action then you should see it. Just don’t expect a great script to go with it.
James Marshall resides in Thailand and is an avid movie goer, screenwriter, up-and-coming author, all around Asian film maniac/psychopath/junkie and Panna aficionado. He is credited on the currently-developing script for director Baf Sjamjuddin’s upcoming Indonesian action thriller, Garuda 7, now gearing for early 2015 production. Feel free to add him as a friend on Facebook by CLICKING HERE; Special thanks to mutual friend, film professional Lee Mason for helping us network for this article.
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