Directed by: Jimmy Henderson
Written by: Jimmy Henderson, Michael Hodgson
Cast: Jean-Paul Ly, Dara Our, Tharoth Sam, Céline Tran
Review: This is Cambodia’s first martial arts action movie. A man named Playboy is arrested and the police are tasked with transporting him to prison. Playboy’s boss has put a hit on him by promising to pay one of the most ruthless prisoners. The police after placing Playboy in his cell end up being trapped as the prisoners are let loose. They have to fight to survive while also recapturing Playboy.
This is a pretty good martial arts movie and is the first full length feature to showcase Bokator. Although only two of the fighters actually fight in this style. I can’t really tell what distinguishes Bokator from other martial arts (they do seem to use elbows and knees like Muay Thai) but the fighting is suitably hard hitting with good sound effects. There is the occasional missed hit or strike that doesn’t make contact but it’s often barely noticeable and I’ve definitely seen worse. The main baddies that the police have to fight are set up beforehand and help to build anticipation. The one one one fights with them are definitely highlights.
What impressed me the most was the camera work in this movie. It far exceeds many other action movies and doesn’t fall prey to bad shaky cam. The camera moves and weaves dynamically and the picture remains steady with the action clearly in frame. There is also minimal cutting. One particularly creative shot is done from the perspective of one of the prisoners.
Some of the actors from the movie were in attendance. One interesting insight was that the film was initially meant to be more serious but ended up being less so with some humorous moments added. The Raid was the standard they were aiming for but within reason based on their limited budget. They had around 75 people who they had to train in martial arts for the movie since they had no budget to bring anybody from overseas other than a few. Next screening is July 29.
Seen in the theater at Fantasia film festival.