Chocolate (2008)

Posted in Reviews by - June 26, 2013
Chocolate (2008)

Panna Rittikrai‘s attempt to launch a female Tony Jaa is incongruously revealed in one of Chocolate’s more contrived scenes, when Jeeja Yanin is shown to have developed her ass-kicking abilities after repeated viewings of Ong-Bak. But Yanin is much more than just Jaa in a skirt.

Director Pinkaew hones a more sensitive side to his film which, although strikingly at odds with the gratuitous carnage, is never once unconvincing. Yanin plays Zen, a young autistic girl with a penchant for kung fu who, unbeknownst to her, winds up plonking her retired mobster mother right in it with her old bosses. A former moll to a sadistic, lovesick Thai gangster and his army of lady boys, Zen’s mother breaks off a condemned, illicit affair with a Yazuka boss for fear of her family’s safety, fleeing to lead a relatively normal life in covert poverty. As Zen’s mother’s health deteriorates and medical bills pile up, Zen naively calls in her mother’s old debts, leading to an all-out maelstrom.

Despite Pinkaew’s opening disclaimer in which he dedicates his film to the world’s “special children”, the bit where Zen has to duel with a boy of a seemingly similar disability is still a touch insensitive. But this is merely a blip on a relatively heartfelt premise. Well, as heartfelt as a violent martial arts movie can get. Stylistically, we are still very much in Ong-Bak territory, but let’s be honest, that’s never a bad place to be.

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