Raging Phoenix (Deu suay doo) Reviews
Overall the film brought to mind the movie Band of The Hand. Oh joy. Same requirement of the "good guys" having to train hard in montages, and also work at getting along before finally taking on the "bad guys" who, like the drug dealers in BoTH, are likewise immune to regular police enforcement.
The early fight scenes are reminiscent of the dancing, spinning, acrobatic fighting found in 70's B-movie chop socky flicks with a tad bit of capoeira enough to look exotic. Like those old standbys, a major part of the first half of the film is all the "good guys" doing their level best to show they could replace Jackie Chan as the next "Drunken Master". Although as the movie progresses, aside from perhaps arriving drunk to the fight, no one drinks during the fight anymore. I am not even sure anyone was drunk in the last scene, despite the opening scenes where alcohol was what basically allowed them to be super fighters.
In the opening scenes the lesser baddies go down without much resistance, and are difficult only because they are in numbers. The baddies at the end are gods who take vicious blows to EVERYWHERE many many times over, and aside from getting a bit dirty, look fresh enough to go all night long. I have to admit this did prompt me to going back to web surfing to pass the time while the bad guys got softened up. Having made these villains so superhuman it takes a level of brutality to defeat them that it not just borders on the ridiculous, it goes all the way to the heart of the capital. If that's your thing, this is your movie. If not, have a hobby you can engage in at hand like I did.
All the bad guys die, and the good guys enjoy a Pyrrhic victory; but the world has been made safe from the evil depredations of human traffickers/perfume makers so we can all bask in the warm glow of hope as the movie closes credits.
I liked some of the fight moves a lot. I just wish they were depicted as being as brutal as I knew they would be if used for real. Having liked them enough early on kept me around until the end. This film can be turned on as background noise. You can definitely go to the corner store, take a few minutes of watching when you return to know exactly where you are in the movie's progress. Also feel free to move around and do what you have to.... like laundry or whatever.
It is a bit slow to start, but the patience is more than rewarded. Some of the introductory scenes are a bit strangely and annoyingly acted, but they do give the feel of an authentic "local" colour... The dialogue translation does not always carry well, but an unexpected surprise is the quality of the sets, and even better the quality of the title music, which is unfortunately used only in one electrifying fight (not the final one!)... Some good heroic scores do support a few of the bigger scenes. The constant lack of any weapons is a quickly accepted part of that universe, and is not annoying...
Very few of the moves do look wire-assisted, but much less obviously than in the big sword brawl in "Kill Bill"... If you wait through some of the slightly confusing or repetitive introductory fights (except one amazing one with several evil henchmen on spring-jumping stalks that allows them full airborne 360s), the repetitiveness actually lessens as the film goes on.
Much better than far more pretentious fare, especially the music!...
I love the cavern hideout finale lasts a solid 30 minutes is outstanding as well as JeeJa is going to defeat three enemies by herself while her buddies were down.
Tell you the truth, I really liked JeeJa's debut movie better than this.
I'm going to go ahead and get straight to the point here. While I was genuinely looking forward to seeing Raging Phoenix, this film takes the prize for the absolute worst Asian film I've ever seen. When the bad guys chasing Deu on bladed pogo-stilts make their appearance five minutes into the film, I had more or less given up any hope of intellectual stimulation, but I'm afraid that was only the beginning. If you thought Chocolate (2008) was silly, you clearly haven't seen Raging Phoenix.
To be fair, I found Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda to be charismatic, likable, and certainly more attractive in this film than she appeared in Chocolate, but she could be Gong Li and it still wouldn't save this train wreck of a film. While I found Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda perfectly tolerable, I can't say the same for Kazu Patrick Tang's character, Sanim, whose brooding personality wouldn't look out of place in Twilight if it weren't for the facial hair. Meanwhile, Jindasee Roongtawan, who plays London, has zero acting ability, though, fortunately for us, she doesn't appear until quite late in the film.
The first thing Raging Phoenix fails to do is establish any indicator of place. All we know is it's all going down somewhere in Thailand and the beach can be seen several times throughout the film. Aside from the beach, most of the sets-particularly the Jaguar Gang's lair-look like something from a theme park. Whoever designed these sets made some very liberal use of plaster and dry ice. If you're foolish enough to endure this film, my advice to you is to see it in low resolution. I made the mistake of seeing it in full 1080p, which didn't make the poorly executed CGI look any better either. Also, why is there an unexplained bottomless pit in the Jaguar Gang's lair?
Besides all that, isn't the whole premise of rendering perfume from the human body lifted from Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), one of my favorite non-Asian films?
What makes Raging Phoenix so bad isn't just the fact that it's, well, bad, it's that it doesn't even seem to know it. The actors/actresses cry like babies as if we're supposed to take them seriously or even join in on the schmaltz-fest. Even the cheesy dramatic music is overkill and, lastly, there's the issue of pacing. If you're going to make a movie even half this bad, you could at least do your audience the service of shortening it up a bit. This was truly an ordeal on my part.
Great film for action fans, and there is a LOT of action, and Deeja Yanin surely suffers for her art, as all actors have to take the blows and do their own falling and stunt-work. I have been impressed with the Thai film industry of late and this their latest is yet another credit to their country.