NANG NAK hunk Winai Kraibutr has the
title role in this Thai horror/fantasy, which is based on a famous novel previously
adapted for the screen. Citizens of The North Village are under seige from
a giant crocodile that moves like lightning both in and out of the water.
Wandering he-man Krai Thong (called "Kraitong" in the subtitles)
wrestles and defeats a crocodile that has wandered on shore but it is not
the beast responsible for the carnage. When the creature strikes again, the
local chieftain promises half of his fortune to the hunter who puts an end
to the horror. The monster, Chalawan, and his two mates (Champagne X and Chutima
"Candy" Everie, the latter a dead ringer for Ada Choi Siu-fan) possess
the ability to assume human form, so Chalawan decides to take one of the village
girls as a new wife. He makes off with the chief's beautiful daughter, Tong
(Wannasa Thongviset), and deposits her in his underground lair. Krai Thong
is able to affect a rescue and deals Chalawan a wound that he thought would
lead to the creature's death. Chalawan's continued existence prompts the arrival
of elderly hunter Ta Soey, whose wife was one of the monster's victims. He
reveals that only a spear made of seven metals will kill Chalawan, so Krai
sets to work constructing it.
TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER and NANG NAK demonstrate just how far Thai cinema
has come in the past few years but the average film from this country is still
technically limited and produced on a modest budget. Consequently, one must
cut KRAI THONG a great deal of slack for the picture to entertain in the way
its creators intended. Director Suthat Intaranupakorn tries to hide the production's
limitations by constantly shaking the camera during the action sequences,
a stylistic choice that will have most viewers reaching for some Dramamine
by the halfway mark. Almost as unsettling is the picture's goofy comic relief
(admiring one villager's collection of severed human ears, a man remarks "You
must be a great warrior," to which the other replies "No, I am a
barber!") and the croc is a mix of extremely unconvincing CGI and real
animals that are nowhere near the same size. It also does not help that all
of the underwater sequences involving the performers were clearly lensed in
a swimming pool. Still, the film does have a few points in its favor. Some
of the other CGI work (like the parting of a lake) is reasonably effective
and at no point are the FX as bad as those seen in Sompote Sands' CROCODILE
(1981). Most interestingly, Krai Thong and Chalawan both display unexpected
shades in their character; the former quite willingly cheats on his wives
by sleeping with Chalawan's women, while the villain of the piece vows at
one point to never kill another human being (that pledge, not surprisingly,
is quickly forgotten when he catches the philandering Krai red-handed). There
are also a few genuinely poetic images, like Chalawan and one mate transforming
into crocodiles, while locked in an underwater embrace, and the same female's
true form shown reflected in a pool of water, while her human guise observes
the death of a fellow being.
Cover art courtesy Winson.
|Winson #WDV 1024K (Hong Kong
Dolby Digital 2.0
Post Synched Thai Language
Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)
6 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills
Coded for ALL Regions
Contains moderate violence and gore, brief nudity, and mild sexuality
menu courtesy Winson.
BOARD RATINGS AND CONSUMER ADVICE
Hong Kong: OAT II (a rating system
used for some direct-to-video releases)
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]
The image has weak contrasts and colors (though the
latter improve as the movie progresses), and the image is mildly grainy throughout;
the presentation is better than Winson's awful rendition of SNAKER (see
issue #100) but still pretty mediocre. As with that DVD, tracking shots
here stutter quite noticeably, possibly a result of PAL-to-NTSC conversion.
The end credits carry the Dolby Digital logo but the sound here is monaural;
it is a bit flat but gets the job done. There are no extras.
is available at Poker Industries.
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© John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.