Bullet Points: Chocolate
Action movies used to be a man’s world but things have changed considerably over the years and watching Uma Thurman, Michelle Yeoh, or Angelina Jolie can be just as exciting as watching your favorite dude fight evil using a myriad of weapons. Chocolate isn’t the best title for an action movie. In fact, telling your friends you watched a movie called Chocolate will draw as many laughs as a movie called Buttplug: A Survivors Tale. I definitely had reservations before viewing this flick but let me tell you, there is some major action here and it more than lives up to the standard set by the Thai stunt community.
The Gist: A Romeo and Juliet style relationship between a Yakuza gangster and a Thai woman leads to them being banished by their mob bosses and Zin is forced to raise her autistic daughter Zen alone in Thailand. Her condition worsens and she’s faced with considerable medical bills and Zen and her friend Moom go about collecting payments from when Zin worked for the mob boss. Having grown up next to a martial arts school, Zen has learned techniques and she uses her physical prowess to acquire the payments until a showdown with the former mob boss turns the situation deadly.
The Cast: JeeJa Yanin plays Zen and for this being her first role in a film I would say it was quite the accomplishment. Not only is she asked to have countless fight scenes in a various environments but she is also playing a special needs character and can’t show the normal emotions that would be delivered by a girl not born with autism. Another actor that I really enjoyed was Ammara Siripong, who played Zen’s mother Zin. I saw Siripong in 2012’s Kill’em All and while that movie was unbelievably disappointing Siripong was the lone decent thing about it. Here she has to display more dramatic acting instead of just fighting everybody and I’m not going to give her an Oscar or anything but at least she didn’t distract me from the movie in any way.
Is she wearing her grandmothers curtains?
The Villain: There is an army of tranny’s….that only seems to happen in Thai movies and I don’t mean that as a bad thing. It’s delightfully unique to have a gang full of those types but it’s nothing new to me as I believe I’ve written about at least two other Thai films which featured similarly themed groups. The way the story builds in this film leaves plenty of people for Zen to beat up and while it’s one of the movies you have to kind of just accept (Zen is 5’3” and she’s kicking the shit out of like 20 guys at a time), it’s also the kind of film that makes you actually root for the hero and when it comes down to her fighting style, a well placed slow motion knee to the face is a beautiful thing.
In what I thought was the weirdest moment of the film, two special needs teenagers fight it out in front of the Yakuza.
The Action: Director Prachya Pinkaew follows up Ong-Bak and The Protector with this action-packed, girl power infused, ass-kicking homage to Martial Arts stars of the 60’s, 70’s, and today. He knows how to do action and my only concern when I see that a film is directed by Prachya is for the stunt men cause they get the shit stomped out of them scene after scene. The finale is reminiscent of the finale in Hard Boiled, not that it’s a hospital shoot-out but that it’s at least 30 minutes long and my appetite for destruction still wasn’t quenched. Any unease that I suffered early in the movie because of the main characters condition was squashed by the end of the movie when I saw her not only beat the tar out of about 30 guys but to do that shit in style!
Yeah…this scene was pretty badass.
Take it Home:
- Bringing a gun to a knife fight: Normally you hear about the guy who brought the knife to a gun fight but this dude has no intentions of going blade for blade.
- First cut: The movie originally had a couple of action scenes where Zen was going move for move with the scenes that taught her the moves; namely Bruce Lee in The Big Boss and a Jackie Chan fight sequence that she also learned from. Not surprisingly this cause an issue with the licensing and the split-screen had to be cut from the film and the only video we actually see her learning from is from Ong Bak, which was also directed by Prachya Pinkaew.
- Postal Mole: Did the mob have a mole inside the post office? How else would they know that Zin had been writing letters to Masashi?