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Chocolate (DVD)

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Genre: Action & Adventure / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Prachya Pinkaew / DVD released 2008-11-03 at Showbox Media Group Ltd / Features of the DVD: PAL

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    4 Reviews
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      08.05.2011 02:40
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      Chocolate - Blu-Ray from the makers of Ong Bak

      From the makers of Ong Bak, we're presented with this Thai martial arts movie strangely titled 'Chocolate'. The movie is an 18 certificate and is anything but sweet, full of martial arts, acrobatics, gun fights, sword fights and painful looking stunts. The story follows Zen (JeeJa Yanin), an autistic child whom turns out to be a bit of a genius when it comes to learning martial arts. Zen is the daughter of a Japanese man and Thai mobster's mistress, both of whom were involved with a certain Thai gangster. Zen's mother, Zin eventually gets sick and its is up to Zen and her friend to raise money for her mother's medication and hospital treatment, which eventually gets Zen mixed up in dangerous situations involving her parent's past gangster acquaintances.


      I must admit that this movie is not quite how I had expected as I was expecting something like Kill Bill (swords and blood baths), which is not my cup of tea, however, I saw the Chocolate Blu-Ray in CEX for a bargain £4 so bought it on a whim. Looking at the Blu-Ray cover, it depicts Zen holding a sword sheaf in each hand, which is what gave me the wrong impression but turns out most of the fighting throughout the movie is Tony Jaa style, Muiy Thai (Thai Kicking Boxing) and acrobatics. There are gun fights, knife throwing, pole staff and some swords but it's mostly kicks, punches and elbows.


      Being a fan of martial arts movies, I enjoyed it very much. There isn't much in the way of plot and dialogue. In fact, with Zen playing a girl whom suffers from autism, her lines are very limited even when she's grown up in the movie. As for the dialogue throughout the movie, it's a mix of Thai, Japanese and a bit of English (with odd accents), so if you care enough about what's being said, you would need to read the subtitles unless you're lucky enough to speak all three languages.


      The movie style is very similar to Ong Bak with maybe a bit less humour but I feel Jeeja (playing Zen) did an excellent job in this movie and deserves the title of a female equivalent of Tony Jaa. As for the rest of the cast, they also did a great job with the stunts. The majority have no lines as it's all about the fighting but for the few that did, they do help move the story along.


      The end of the movie shows the outtakes, Jackie Chan style, whereby we see the stunts go wrong. These are also available in more detail (and in proper full colour) in the Special Features. There were no stunt doubles as the actors and actresses all did their own stunts, which they revealed in the interviews. I was very impressed, not just with the acrobatics but also with how realistic the falls were (men falling two or three storeys). The outtakes reveal how much pain the actors suffered each time a stunt went wrong or when someone got hit for real (by accident).


      The Blu-Ray itself is well presented with audio at the intro, extracts of stunts from the movie in the background, and well laid out menus. Definitely doesn't give off as a cheaply produced product. The video quality during the main feature is excellent as you would expect on Blu-Ray. It has a number Special Features, which were surprisingly interesting. The parts introducing us to some of the actors and showing them training and preforming the stunts were particularly interesting to watch. There are also deleted scenes (not particularly interesting), trailers, bits talking about the martial artists in the film, etc, which I quite enjoyed.


      VERDICT


      The movie is full of fast martial arts action with a bit of blood thrown into the mix but not too much in the way of gore, which is a good balance as I don't like too much blood in these movies anyway. The fighting and stunts are well choreographed and are in some instances, more impressive than what I've seen from Jackie Chan. There's a good variety of the type of stunts and type of action as there's gun and swords as well as just the Muiy Thai and acrobatics.


      The foreign languages may put some people off (there's only Thai 5.1 (surround sounds) and Thai 2.0 selectable and no English dub) but I would recommend Chocolate unless you're really not keen on violent movies. For those who like martial arts and action movies, highly recommended. For everyone else, if they'd give it a chance, I'm sure they'd be awed by the stunts as well with or without a complex story so long as they don't mind a bit of violence.


      The Blu-Ray is currently around £7 on Amazon. DVD is around £4.


      Thanks for reading.


      P.S. Oh and as for the movie title, I think it's because Zen likes Smarties. :o)

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      25.01.2010 01:40
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      Watch it for the awesome neck-snapping arm-twisting moves, and you're gravy.

      OK. Once upon a time, there was this Thai movie released a year or so ago, called "Ong Bak". In it, a young monk hard-as-nails dude, discovers that he can kick people in the face faster than they can draw a gun, and therefore a movie is wrapped around it like a two week old tortilla enclosing spicy re-fried beans.

      You have to chew through the stale exterior to get to the good bits...
      or,
      there's some really good action sequences squeezed within a plot with more holes than a screen door on a submarine...

      {tumbleweed blows slowly by... somewhere far off, a lone dog barks}

      Oh well, I'll continue babbling to myself then. "Chocolate" is made by the guys who put out Ong Bak. It also has about as much to do with chocolate as Night of the Living Dead does with Mother's Day. There is however, buried beneath a wafer thin plot, a kickass action flick.

      Hold on a sec and I'll catch you up on setting, it should only take a sentence or two...

      Hot Thai Gangster Moll (HTGM) hooks up with stoic looking Yakuza Dude (YD). They get busy and produce a child. YD heads back to Japan. HTGM raises kid, and discovers two unique things about her. One, apparently she's autistic, and two, that doesn't stop her from having an inborn ability from shattering your jaw with her knee, or punching you in the neck so hard that your head snaps back like a pez dispenser.

      Anyway, said autistic girl, when she hits her teenage years in full swing, decides in a roundabout way for some payback on some evil villain types (who also include transvestite assassins, yep, no kidding) who did her mother wrong. And that's when the arse-kicking explodes into full swing.

      If you have a strong interest in action films, get this.
      If you have a mediocre interest in action films, get this.
      If you have a passing interest in action flicks, go watch Tinkerbell.

      The best part about this film, the thing that really sold it for me, was, strangely enough, watching the Jackie Chan style end credits. If you've ever seen a Jackie Chan film, you know that during the end credits, there's usually shots of the stunt work gone horribly wrong during the shooting of the film. Chocolate has the same things, except here's the catch. I don't think any of these guys has heard of the concepts of "stunt man" or "pulled punch", or "mannequin instead of human being thrown off building".

      Case in point. There's a scene where the bad guy gets bounced off the side of a two/three story tenement building. On the way down he conveniently hits a couple of the signs protruding from the building, and then hits the pavement at the bottom with an audible **THWAP*. Now when I was watching that, I kinda just took it for granted that it was a mannequin. Well during the end credits, they show the fall, and then zoom into the body on the pavement. There, twisted in pain, is some guys who's probably swearing very loudly about his shattered spine and pelvis, while trying very hard to breathe through multiple rib fractures.

      Amazing.

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      29.06.2009 21:24
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      An occasionally fun, if dumb martial arts film

      Prachya Pinkaew is a director best known for his work on Tony Jaa martial arts vehicles Ong Bak and Warrior King, boasting thrilling action, without much hint of an intelligible plot to speak of. Nevertheless, you action was so utterly bewildering and awesome that you likely didn't really care about the exposition, yet in his latest film, the wildly uneven Chocolate, not enough of that charm really carries over.

      Revolving around a young autistic woman named Zen, Chocolate sees her and sidekick Muum attempting to collect payment for her mother on a number of payments she is owed by various unsavoury characters. The film is essentially as repetitive as a video game, with Zen and Muum entering a warehouse/meat-packing area, requesting money, being refused, and then having Zen beat the living Hell out of everyone until she's the only thing left standing. The rest of the film's run time is filled with some truly cheesy "emotive" scenes that just reforms as a bathetic mess, not really helped by Pinkaew's incredibly cheesy, amateurish direction.

      Much like Warrior King in particular, the film attempts to shoe-horn in plot exposition when it's not really needed - nobody really cares about this autistic girl - they just want to see people being beaten up for 90 minutes. The film's first half is disappointingly devoid of almost any action whatsoever, but to be fair, the second half is very action-packed, as long as you can make it through a rather tiresome first half, that is.

      In its defence, the action scenes are impressive, and the stunt work moreso - lead Vismistananda may not be Tony Jaa, but she's a decent enough substitute, and is quick enough on her feet to keep up with the ridiculously quick-fire fight choreography. Mostly, though, the fighting isn't quite up to the standards set with the Jaa films, and stays grounded instead of getting outrightly ridiculous, particularly as Warrior King did.

      It's a sure disappointment from someone who has directed two thrilling, if brainless actioners, but it delivers the visceral goods at least. If only the director would get over his own pompous need to provide the pretense of plot in his films.

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      21.02.2009 15:13
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      Watch it for the excellent fighting!

      Believe is or not, Chocolate is a martial arts film. From the title you might expect a film that is some sort of terrible fluffy rom-com. In a way it shares many aspects of a terrible rom-com: awful script, poor story and mediocre acting. Therefore, I recommend that you should watch it purely for the martial arts and it will be an enjoyable viewing experience.

      It is directed by Prachya Pinkaew with martial arts choreography by Panna Rittikrai, the same pair who introduced us to the amazing Muay Thai talents of Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong (Warrior King).

      <<< What is it about? >>>
      The story begins with a woman called Zin (Ammara Siripong), an ex loan shark who used to be the girlfriend of a Thai gangster called No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong). He becomes so jealous of her new relationship with the rival Yakuza gangster Masashi (Hiroshi Abe), that he forces Zin to make Masashi return to Japan, otherwise he will kill them. Zin then goes into hiding as she discovers she is pregnant.

      She has a baby girl called Zen (JeeJa Yanin) who's autistic, but she grows up with the amazing ability to learn and mimic the martial arts she sees. She copies the Muay Thai fighters that live in the academy next door to her and also the martial arts movies (Tony Jaa movies!) that she watches on TV.

      Zen has a companion in the street urchin called Mangmoom (Taphon Phopwandee) who her mum takes in when she catches him being bullied. Mangmoom helps both Zen and Zin when things take a turn for the worse, but I won't tell you what happens, as I don't want to spoil what little story there is! Let me just say that a hell of a lot of martial arts action ensues about 30 minutes into the film.

      <<< So did you enjoy the film? >>>
      Based on the merits of the martial arts I really did enjoy this film. The star of Chocolate is JeeJa Yanin, who makes her debut film performance and she is truly amazing. Before she made the movie she was already a taekwondo expert and when she got the part she underwent 2 years of training with Panna Rittikrai's stunt team. She had to learn Muay Thai, gymnastics and how to use weapons, so the movie took 4 years to make.

      The choreography is excellent, as you would expect from the makers of Ong Bak, but it is even more extraordinary as the lead actor is female. That might sound incredibly sexist, but only because it's so rare that you have a female in an action lead role. Lucy Liu showed off her Kali-Eskrima-Silat (knife-and-stick fighting) skills in the atrocious film Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, but unfortunately that film was so bad it didn't really do her any favours. Luckily, Chocolate isn't as bad as Ballistic, and even though you might think you've seen all the moves before (as Zen's character copies Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee) it is still refreshing and inspiring to watch this young slip of a girl totally kick ass.

      Her martial arts skills are highly impressive, as she is only 24 and she was much younger when they started making this film. I would definitely watch another film featuring this rising star.

      <<< Extras >>>
      Probably the most amazing thing you learn from watching the DVD extras is that Yanin didn't use a stunt double throughout the whole film, so what you see is what you get. There is one particular stunt that she repeats over and over until she gets it perfect: she runs at full pelt, drops to her knees and bends backwards and then slides underneath a very low table - unbelievable!
      Unfortunately during another fight scene she got injured and couldn't open her left eye so they had to stop shooting for a week.
      The making of the film is definitely worth watching as you can truly appreciate how skilled Yanin is.

      Director: Prachya Pinkaew
      Cast:
      JeeJa Yanin - Zen
      Ammara Siripong - Zin
      Hiroshi Abe - Masashi
      Pongpat Wachirabunjong - No. 8
      Taphon Phopwandee - Mangmoom

      The DVD is available from www.amazon.co.uk for £6.98

      Running Time: 92 Minutes
      DVD Release Date: 3 Nov 2008
      Classification: 18
      Genre: Action, Foreign
      Thai with English subtitles

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