September 26, 2008

Khon Fai Bin aka Dynamite Warrior (2006)

Seeing as it looks like we are going to have to wait awhile before Ong-Bak 2 gets any sort of release, due to Tony Jaa's breakdown, I thought I would check out some other Thai fight movies in the meantime. Following this review I will shortly be posting a review for Born To Fight, which I hope is better than this one. Not to say that this was that bad, it's just a mixed bag which I will get into presently.

So, what do we have here then? Well, the long and the short of it is that this is a movie about cattle rustling, no I am not kidding but I will elaborate. Set at the turn of the 20th century, Thailand is busy make the most of its biggest export, which is rice. To farm the ground though the farmers need cows in order to plow the fields. Traders and bandits realise this and do all they can to steal the cows in order to re-sell them. On top of this, the tractor is being introduced to Thailand, obviously this will make cultivating the land alot easier. Trying to take tractors to the masses is Lord Waeng, who isn't finding it very easy due to the high costs. So, he employs a convicted criminal to steal all the cattle thus increasing the demand for tractors.

Doesn't sound too riveting does it?

Well, the other side of the story involves Jone Bang Fai, a loner, who is trying to find the cattle rustlers that killed his parents when he was but a wee lad. He's grown up learning some bad-ass fighting skills as well as creating all manner of rockets (fireworks, not the Apollo sort) which he uses as weapons.

Eventually the paths of the two party's meet during the course of the movie, but into the mix you need to throw a couple of wizards, cannibalism, virgin's menstrual cycles and a fair bit more.

Dynamite Warrior starts of with a bang, with one hell of a cool fight scene, but then gets a little too fractured as it bounces from viewpoint to viewpoint before eventually settling into a decent rhythm. As you might expect the fight scenes are quite excellent, if a little over the top in places, and when Jone Bang Fai unleashes his fireworks it is a joy to watch, however the need for the Thai filmmakers to add in some completely out of place comedy left me feeling a little disappointed. Now, comedy in Thai movies isn't something new, they seem to do it all the time, but here it was just too much especially with Lord Waeng's character.

Technically Dynamite Warrior was an efficient movie, although the editing could have been a little tighter in places and the CGI varied from good to ok. Chances are though that you will watch this for the fighting, and it does come through in that respect. Some of the moves are incredible and, although it looked like wire-work was employed in some instances, there are still plenty of jaw-dropping moments. Some of the fight scenes are also surprisingly bloody, with limbs being lopped off and throats being slashed. That being said this isn't a particularly nasty movie, it's your basic good guy fighting the odds kind of flick so there aren't too many surprises in store.

Overall, I'd recommend Dynamite Warrior if you like your fight scenes, and I'll give the writer(s) credit for giving us a different kind of premise, but on the whole it was too much of a mixed bag for me.

Now, if only Mr Jaa could rejoin us on Planet Earth in the near future...

Rating 2.5 stars

Review by Jude Felton

September 22, 2008

Slayer - Still Reigning (2004)

In 1986 the band Slayer released the album Reign in Blood. It clocks in at around 28 minutes, and is a beautiful assault on the senses. Never letting up for one second, it was, and still is over 20 years later, one of the most brutal Metal albums ever released. Although the band have released some fine albums since they have never managed to surpass Reign in Blood, and quite truthfully they don't need to try.

This live DVD showcases the band, with their original line-up of Tom Araya, Kerry King, Jeff Hanneman and returning drummer Dave Lombardo, playing the Reign in Blood album in it entirety start to finish. From the opening screams of Angel of Death through to the onstage bloodbath of Raining Blood, this is quite honestly a splendid live performance. Now, I am sure there was some technical jiggery pokery in the sound department prior to release, but what the Hell, this is quite exceptional viewing. For a band where the members of pushing 40 they never let up for one second. They don't rely on a stageshow, just four blokes, a stack of amps and a wall of sound. It's nigh on perfection. A fact that is helped no end by the numerous cameras used to capture the show.

As per usual the inbetween banter is kept to an absolute minimum, Araya knows that the fans are there to hear the music and that is what they get. I've seen Slayer play 4 times so far, and every time they have been amazing, and watching this DVD only goes to show that they have nailed down what they do best, and don't deviate from it. The only thing different here is the blood during Raining Blood; yes it does rain, and rather than coming across as cheesy worked quite well I thought.

Aside from this main performance of Reign in Blood there is also the option to watch the band belt out a few other of their classics, which include South of Heaven, Hallowed Point and the immortal Necrophiliac, and yes Araya does give us the maggot-crunching intro. There is also an interview with the band contained on the disc. Really though, the live performance alone makes it worth the price. It looks good, and it sounds good, having the choices between Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0.

Finally, i'll put aside the fanboy for a minute and just add that this is definitely a DVD for the fans, it's not the sort of release that is going to get a lot of casual viewers. If you don't like Slayer this probably won't win you over, although it might. If you are a fan? You'll love it!

Rating 3.5 stars (out of 4)

Review by Jude Felton