Chocolate (2008)

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

Panna Rittikrai‘s obvious attempt to launch a female Tony Jaa is incongruously revealed in one of Chocolate’s more contrived scenes, in which Jeeja Yanin is shown to have developed her ass-kicking capabilities after repeated viewings of Ong-Bak. But Yanin is so much more than simply Jaa in a skirt. Director Pinkaew hones a more sensitive side to the 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 dropping her retired mobster mother – a former moll to a sadistic, lovesick Thai gangster – right in it with her old bosses. Zen’s mother was forced to break off a condemned, illicit love 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 the medical bills pile up, Zen naively calls in her mother’s old debts, leading to an all-out shit-storm. Despite Pinkaew’s opening disclaimer in which he dedicates the film to the world’s ‘special children’, there is a slight blip on its relatively heartfelt message; a scene in which Zen has to fight a boy with a seemingly similar disability ends up feeling tonally wrong and insensitive. But, stylistically and physically, we are still very much on similar ground to the extraordinary Ong-Bak, and that is never a bad place to be.

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