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Yamada – Way of the Samurai: (AKA The Samurai of Ayothaya): A betrayed Japanese samurai is nursed back to health by Thai villagers, and by fusing the national fighting techniques, becomes a great warrior. This has the hallmarks of a co-production between the two countries; great because it brings together the best / most famous aspects of both cultures, but feels a little back-patting at times. It features some brutal Muay Thai boxing… very realistic, impressive and visceral: they’re real champion Thai boxers. The bigger action set pieces are well-edited, but the CGI swords, blood, and other effects look cheap. In typical Thai style there’s a ‘musical’ feel to the soundtrack and national style of acting – young girl and underplayed love interest are most guilty of hamming it up. Being based on a historical figure, the story’s a little clunky, but the locations, sets and costumes all look great, and are captured well by the director. Yamada may not have the most gripping/original story, or best/most famous cast in the world, but there’s more than enough gorgeous Scenery and brutal Thai fighting skill for the film to fall back on and keep you watching for the duration.

Score: 5/10

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Bangkok Dagerous: (2008 Remake) The best hitman in the world goes on one last big job before retirement but breaks all his own rules and ends up in a whole bunch of trouble. Unfortunately this isn’t Cage’s finest hour, or hair cut, and although coming across as emotionally retarded generally works for hitmen he ends up looking super goofy in scenes that require any feeling. Even in the voiceover parts sound affected. I was bamboozled as to why almost everything about this re-make was so true to the original it turns out it was the same directors are behind this, which is no bad thing. Barring both deaf aspects this is shockingly faithful, even down to the rough, grainy and washed out look. It was a bit weird that Cage was the only white guy in a ‘westernised’ re-make, almost made it pointless, but I guess big names put the bums on seats. The 5.1 audio track is great, particularly in the action scenes. Not a bad film by any means but if possible, definitely check out the original.

Score: 7/10