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BKO: Bangkok Knockout


For nonstop action, Thai one on.

Rod Lott September 30th, 2011

Bangkok, Oriental city. And the city don’t know what the city is getting. In the slick “BKO: Bangkok Knockout,” that’s a ruff-em’-tuff-em’ rumble involving a fight club named Fight Club getting to do what it does best: fight!

bkobangkokknockout

Despite the team’s intimidating name, the members of Fight Club are the good guys of this Thai actioner. The bad guy is the cigar-chomping gringo Mr. Snead (Speedy Arnold), who runs a high-stakes gambling operation where the minimum wager is $5,000. On what do his richie-rich clients bet? Quasi-gladitorial games between pairs of fighters in an abandoned warehouse, with a guaranteed life-or-death outcome.

Or, as Snead (really, screenwriters? “Snead”?) calls it, "one hell of a treat."

As luck would have it, Fight Club fights (duh) its way through the martial-arts match-ups, in which opponents include a screaming drag queen and a hulking, Jason Voorhees-esque man in an iron mask and a hoodie. They’re drawn so comically, you kind of wait for our heroes to turn into Power Rangers.

They never do, but no matter, because the make good on their group’s name. Plenty of powder-on-the-shoes kicking scenes take up time in this one. Each sequence is set amid slightly different surroundings, almost as set pieces. For instance, who in their right mind would choose to tussle under a wall of falling water when the rest of the room is so empty? No one, of course, but it sure looks cool in slow motion.

Director Panna Rittikrai, the guy behind the “Ong Bak” sequels, knows exactly what he’s doing here: delivering enjoyable piffle. Backed with breakbeats, said piffle is made even "funner" by the disc’s awkward-pause-packed English dub, with smile-worthy lines like “He just betted that much!" and "Shut up, you buffalo in a suit!"

BKO” gets serious in its last 20 minutes — the best part of the entire movie — in which the cast moves outside for a stunt-heavy vehicle chase that nearly approaches the stuff of Jackie Chan’s highlight reel. Don’t look for Tony Jaa — or anyone else you know, as all the actors are unknowns whose names (Gitabak Agohjit, Krittiya Lardphanna) look like typewriter sneezes.

And then it ends with a dance number in the hospital. Hell, why not? —Rod Lott

 
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