Raging Phoenix (2009)

Posted in Reviews by - December 01, 2014
Raging Phoenix (2009)

Jeeja Yanin, who so impressed with her grasp of both acrobatics and autism in 2008’s minor hit Chocolate, is somewhat less convincing in this strange follow up. It’s not her fault, of course, that the film has no grip on reality. But where her disquiet and vulnerability worked wonders in her debut, here, it takes a somersaulting leap of faith to believe that the sweet-natured Jeeja would be capable of exacting a violent, vengeful blood-lust on a rampant scale as well as managing a dependency on alcohol. The story is also nonsense which doesn’t help, centering on the fictitious movie style of Meyraiyuth – a combination of break-dancing, Muay Thai and heavy drinking. Unlike simulated drunken kung fu styles, Meyraiyuth supposedly uses inebriation as a source of power rather than disguise, despite the movements clearly requiring a high level of gymnastic skill and agility to perform.

Jeeja plays Deu, a troubled drummer in a rock band who is rescued from a kidnapping by three trendy street dancers. They smuggle Deu back to a castaway beach set and teach her their combative body-popping. Now it gets really silly, as the three boys – called Sanim, ‘Dog Shit’ and ‘Pig Shit’, later joined by ‘Bull Shit’ – turn out to be thwarted ex-husbands whose wives have been kidnapped by the Jaguar gang and turned into prostitutes, targeted because of their pheromones which are bottled and made into perfume. The Jaguar gang’s headquarters appear to be tunneled deep underground with bottomless pits and rope bridges borrowed from an Indiana Jones movie. The lunacy is not helped by some awkward CGI moments and distracting wire-work, which is used quite frivolously in parts by Tony Jaa‘s late mentor Panna Rittikrai, whose choreography is instantly identifiable if increasingly fantastical. It’s still entertaining, of course, but completely disjointed.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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