Issue #216           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                June 17th, 2004

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(2002; Software Supplies International Co. Ltd)


RATING: 6/10


This elaborate Thai fantasy is based upon the famous 19th century work of the same name by Sunthon Phu, who is considered to be one of Thailand's most gifted poets. Sent away by their father to learn disciplines that will aid their judgment as the future rulers of Rattana Kingdom, young princes Apai-manee (or Apai-Mani, as the English export title identifies him) and Srisuwan return home to find the king greatly disappointed by their respective choices of the flute and martial arts. The two are banished but pledge to one day return home and convince their father that their pursuits are indeed beneficial. While playing his flute one day for three swamis the brothers befriended in their travels, Apai-manee attracts the attention of a giant sea witch, who kidnaps the youth and takes him to her undersea kingdom. There, the creature adopts the form of a lovely human woman and swears her eternal love. Deciding that Apai-manee is likely now dead, Srisuwan and his comrades journey onward, ending up in the kingdom of Rommachak, where they help defend against an invading army. As a reward for his courage, Srisuwan is allowed to marry the lovely Princess Kedsara but yearns to learn the fate of his brother. He discovers that Apai-manee is still very much alive and, in the eight years that have now passed, sired a son with the sea witch. However, when Apai-manee becomes enchanted by a mermaid, the Sea Witch's wrath threatens to destroy all.


The most CGI-laden Asian fantasy since Tsui Hark's THE LEGEND OF ZU (2001), PHRA-APAI-MANI is not nearly as technically sophisticated. In fact, with its older style of blue screen work and forced perspective giant, the film plays like an Eastern version of the "mythical quest" adventures of the 1960s. I am not familiar with the source novel but it appears as if the inevitable condensation included only the highlights of an epic story. The narrative tends to skip over portions of the tale that would have been worth presenting (like the brothers' relationship with their wives, which is a relevant component in determining their actions but are largely just glossed over) and the emotions on display may be a bit too overstated for some Western viewers. However, the climax does manage to tug at one's heartstrings and director Chalart Sriwanna makes moderately effective use of Hong Kong martial arts fantasy elements for the action sequences. It is no genre milestone but PHRA-APAI-MANI boasts some lovely imagery and represents a definite step up from the production company's previous fantasy, KRAI THONG (reviewed in issue #115). Juraluk Kittiyarat, Surachai Sangkarkat, Passakorn Pamornbutr, and Panatda Vongpudee star.


The anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer looks soft and contrasts are not always distinct but hues are strong. The post-synced Thai audio track is a bit brittle but reasonably boisterous and enveloping. In addition to the film, there are some unsubtitled extras on the dual layer DVD. Included are a 13 minute "Making of" program (which features interviews and a good amount of behind-the-scenes footage), a music video, a small photo gallery, and the theatrical trailer. The title is presented onscreen as PRA-A-PAIMANEE and the keepcase comes packaged in an outer sleeve with slightly different cover art.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Right Beyond.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Thailand Release
  • PAL -- Region 3 Only
  • Right Beyond #TSDVD-2012
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Thai Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Thai
  • 24 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (1.85:1)
  • 89 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains moderate violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful