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The Tiger Blade (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
Luengsuntorn Atsadawut (Actor) | Wachilabunjong Pongput (Actor) | Phisarayabud Phimonrat (Actor)
The Tiger Blade (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)
This professional review refers to The Tiger Blade (DVD) (Hong Kong Version)

2005 Thai action flick Tiger Blade is proving to have some surprisingly good legs. The first film from young upstart studio Mono Film was a hit in its homeland and has slowly been making its way around the world ever since. A Canadian DVD release a while back was followed by a Japanese, Luc Besson's Europa Corp has picked it up and now there's a new Hong Kong DVD. And the reason for its long shelf life is simple. Tiger Blade is a pure guilty pleasure. The plot line is unnecessarily convoluted and complicated, the CGI work is below standards, some of the action is shot too close and edited too fast and there are massive plot and character holes. This is all true. But, damn it, what it does well it does really well and what it does well is have fun. There are inventive fight scenes, scantily clad ladies, scantily clad ladies kicking each other in the head, black magic, high energy gun play, and a high energy go-kart chase in, under and through busy highway traffic. The film has a charismatic leading man, energy to spare and the good sense to never take itself too seriously and that takes it a long, long way.

Atsadawut Luengsuntorn is Yosthana, a cop attached to a secret, elite squad who take down the worst of the worst. And the worst are coming. When the leader of a Burmese resistance group is broken out of jail by his vicious gang of criminal cohorts, the task of re-capturing him falls to Yosthana and his team. But it quickly becomes clear that this will be no easy task. You see, the villains are armed with black magic - talismans and tattoos that grant them special powers and render normal crime fighting techniques useless. As skilled as Yosthana is with his fists and feet and guns, he is destined to fail unless he can find some other means of bringing down his enemies. The solution is the mystical Tiger Blade, a magical sword that will grant him the power to best the villains' magic.

Tiger Blade has significantly more plot than this - its major weakness is that there is too much plot and that it doesn't all hang together particularly well - but this is the core of the story and as long as it sticks to that core, it zips along at a brisk, entertaining pace. Yosthana gets one of the most memorable character introductions in the history of action cinema - a mid-coital gun fight wearing only a towel in a room flooded when the coital water bed is blown to bits by shotgun blasts - and he remains an eminently entertaining character throughout, particularly as he jousts with his female counterpart in the squad. The comic relief - in the form of a cowardly police team member - is inconsistent but the cast of villains, though so obscurely plotted that it's never quite clear what they actually want, is memorable from top to bottom whether chewing the scenery, engaging in a bout of gunplay, rappelling down the face of a building or just laying a good old fashioned beat down on some poor soul.

On an action level Tiger Blade has no equivalent to top tier Thai actions stars Tony Jaa or Dan Chupong but Luengsuntorn is certainly more than capable. A better choreographer would have allowed for wider shots and longer takes, but the action situations are plentiful and inventive enough to overcome those shortcomings and the performers all execute their roles with energy and a casual defiance of imminent death - a tiny miscalculation on the go-kart stunt would surely have been fatal - that keeps them engaging throughout.

Is Tiger Blade a great film? Nope. Not by any measure. I'm not even certain that I could fairly call it a good film. It's a b-film through and through but it knows exactly what it is and loves what it is and that makes it a fun film.

by Todd Brown -

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