In Thai with Chinese and English Subtitles
Director: Rashane Limtrakul
Cast: Yanin Vismitananda, Kazu Patrick Tang,
Nui Sandang, Sompong Lertwimonkasem, Boonprasert Sala-ngam,
RunTime: 1 hr 54 mins
Released By: Cathay-Keris Films & Scorpio
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Official Website: www.jijaragingphoenix.com
Opening Day: 19 November 2009
Deu, a girl with equally high degree of recklessness and beauty
has never experienced 'true love'. Her life changes completely
when some gangsters try to kidnap her and she narrowly escapes
with the help of Sanim, a sad looking stranger with a painful
past. Waking up in an abandoned factory, she joins his friends
who practice a form of drunken Thai break-dancing martial
arts that they dub Meyraiyuth. Sanim and his friends, having
had loved ones abducted, join forces to get back at the kidnappers.
The petite Jija (Yanin Vismitananda) of the hard hitting Thai action movie Chocolate is backed with a second helping of Muay Thai style of fighting. While Chocolate was a rarity in bringing back female action stars that perform their own stunts, Raging Phoenix was a prime example of why female action stars should stick to kicking their co-stars more than 'falling in love' with them.
What went wrong with this movie?
First of all, it tried to blend break-dancing into Thai martial arts which resulted in an awful mix. Besides diluting the awesomeness of Muay Thai style of fighting, it’s a very blatant effort to draw in those teenage crowds that are into break dancing and hip hop music (ie the Step Up/Stomp the Yard/So you think you can dance group). It’s a tough sell as there’s nothing spectacular with the break dancing here and it’s even harder to believe that the merger would result in an effective martial arts style. The merger also made the fight scenes in Raging Phoenix felt rather choreographed, taking away the spontaneous raw bashing feel to it.
To make matters worse, it even tried to add Jackie Chan’s famous drunken fist’s style of drunk fighting into the mix. While Jackie Chan’s Drunken Fist movie took the time and effort in focusing this style of fighting, the drunk fighting in Raging Phoenix felt mostly like a decoration gimmick to create cheap laughs.
After destroying the rawness of Muay Thai martial arts, the movie went on to pad the movie length with various preposterous plot points and twist. Taking time away from martial arts fighting, this movie attempts to build a weak storyline that involves kidnapping of women and perfume making. It’s coupled with equally weak acting by the supporting actors that lack the screen charisma and to make matter worse, it even throws in a third party love angle to it. Their on screen love anguish was shared by the viewer’s anguish in sitting through their 'dramatic' performance.
The only thing that finally shined for Raging Phoenix was the final fight at the very end where it conveniently forgot about the break dancing and the drunken style of fighting in this movie. It has the no hold barred feel to it and it finally feels like a hardcore Muay Thai fighting movie that was meant to be.
After the preview and watching the trailer once again, it became clear why the latter was so enticing and the full length feature a whole lot less so. The trailer was filled with exciting kinetic fighting, exhilarating body control movements and picturesque backdrops. It did not show how it tries to merge the Muay Thai fighting style with breakdance and the drunken fist style. Nor did it tries to show the love drama that the female protagonist had to go through with her male co star or the convoluted laughable plot devices with kidnapping and perfume making. Sadly, Raging Phoenix is ridden with all those subpar elements that it made waiting for the kickass action rather dreary.
Review by Richard Lim Jr