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BKO: Bangkok Knockout
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Panna Rittikrai is a legend in Thai action cinema. With credits as director of Born to Fight and stunt coordinator for such classics as Ong-Bak and Chocolate, he was also the star of many action films in the 70s and 80s. Rittikrai is well known for being a famous mentor to some of the top action superstars working today, including Tony Jaa (Ong-Bak), Dan Chupong (Dynamite Warrior) and Jija Yanin (Chocolate). BKO features a range of martial art disciplines at its best when a group of "fight club" friends, whose styles vary from Muay Thai, Capoeira to Kung Fu and Tai Chi, must join forces and fight for their lives in a daring rescue of a kidnapped friend.
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Top customer reviews
The story takes its sweet time getting to the meat of things. In Thailand, fifty contending martial arts teams vie for the chance to work in Hollywood, except that, now, the contestants have been narrowed down to two competing clubs: the "Stunt for Life" and the "Fight Club." What they don't know is that there's no Hollywood gig. Instead, the winning team is drugged and forced to engage in an underground death match against a army of martial arts goons. The bouts are staged in a sprawling warehouse, with the action captured by strategically situated cameras. As an incentive, one of the team's womenfolk is abducted and, throughout the film, is dragged around the warehouse to draw in her would-be rescuers. Of course, there's the evil American behind it all. Of course, we can't do without the exclusive club/trailer hosting a select group of wealthy, ethnic stereotype gamblers, all champing at the bit to place their death wagers. This is a standard plot of the kung fu flick. I'll say this: once the plot is established and thirty minutes deep, the pace picks up to a fever pitch. But that's probably a kinder way of saying that this sucker doesn't have much in the way of story development.
BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT is co-directed by Panna Rittikrai who directed BORN TO FIGHT and who was the stunt coordinator for ONG-BAK and CHOCOLATE. Given that he was a star of Thai action cinema of the '70s and '80s, it's not too weird that Panna would get back in front of the camera. He plays the quietly imposing big bad who stands pat for most of the film. But we all get an inkling that should this grizzled old master spring into action, the good guys are in for a painful shellacking. Too bad they saddled Panna's character with asthma.
Once it gets going, the action doesn't relent. This is a ridiculously talented bunch of young martial artists/stunt men turned actors. The moves they execute are wicked, eye-widening stuff. The wild, hurtful stunts would make Jackie Chan yearn for his youth. Maybe my favorite action set piece showcases the mad gymnastics performed by cage match antagonists (one of 'em a parkour specialist) who brawl all over the surface of chain-linked fences. There's also an alarming scrap that takes place under a moving truck. The film's third act also features a massive, hectic free-for-all as our tired and battered protagonists face attackers erupting out of the woodwork. Sometime after, Panna Rittikrai finally gets into the act and demonstrates that he still has the skills and swagger to take out an entire fight club and make it look effortless. Listen, go check out BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT. It's worth wading thru the lame stuff to get to the insane fighty fights. The quality of these fights earns the film 3.5 out of 5 stars. There's also the added thrill of watching various fighting techniques pitted against each other.
The DVD's bonus stuff:
- Making of BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT (00:14:20 minutes, with English sub-titles available)
- Behind the Scenes - real-time footage of the film's fight scenes in which you can see the actors painfully absorb them brutal hits (00:10:39 minutes, with English sub-titles)
- BKO: BANGKOK KNOCKOUT Trailer (with English sub-titles)