a review by Nalini Haynes
Language: Thai, with English subtitles
Raging Phoenix focuses on Deu is a young woman whose attempted kidnapping is foiled when she kills one of her assailants. Sanim, Pigshit and Dogshit are looking for the kidnapping ring and expected Deu to be kidnapped. When Deu runs from her assailants, the men help her, first fighting off her kidnappers but later training her in a new form of marshal arts.
This new form of fighting is a combination of kick boxing and dance. Jackie Chan’s acrobatic fighting coupled with humour seems to have been heavily influential in Raging Phoenix. The training sequence is heavily reminiscent of sensai movies like The Karate Kid and Empire Strikes Back (Yoda training Luke), but Raging Phoenix is definitely taking the piss.
As the plot builds to its climax the humour decreases until the fights seem to be fairly serious. However, there is one scene that is remarkably similar to the climax of the Phantom Menace, with fighters moving between walkways crisscrossing at random with no apparent purpose or justification for being at that location other than the existence of an unlikely well.
Raging Phoenix is quite ‘art house’ in its sets and symbolism. For example, the training site including sculptures of birds flying free as a repeating theme. In the kidnappers’ headquarters tears are kept in bottles inside bird cages. Realism is sacrificed in favour of artistic goals, but this does not appear to detract from the movie.
There is justification for reviewing this as a science fiction movie, but that is not revealed until quite late in the movie.
I quite enjoyed this movie, but it went a bit too long. There reached a point where the story didn’t wrap up just so they could have another fight, then a few more after that…
This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.
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