Pratt Picks


Audio and Video - Thai New Wave Films

In the wake of Asia's 1997 financial disaster, three directors of television commercials – Nonzee Nimibutr, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and Wisit Sasanatieng – concluded that Thailand's films needed to be more artistic to attract investors and gain worldwide acceptance. Along with action star Tony Ja (Ong Bak, The Warrior), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical Malady), and the Pang Brothers (Bangkok Dangerous, The Eye), these directors help usher in a "New Wave" in Thai Cinema. Following are some of the films representing this Thai film movement.
Bangkok Dangerous
Bangkok Dangerous (1999)

(dir. Oxide & Danny Pang, Thailand, 1999, 105 minutes)

Before the Pang Brothers (born in Hong Kong but of Thai origin) gained international attention with the horror film The Eye (Gin Gwai, 2002), they directed this 1999 action thriller about a deaf mute professional assassin named Kong (Pawalit Mongkolpisit) who becomes close with a pretty shop assistant (Premsinee Ratanasopha) and starts to question the decisions he has made in his life. Produced by Nonzee Nimibutr (Nang Nak). Cast: Pavarit Mongkolpisit, Premsinee Ratanasopha, Patharawarin Timkul, Pisek Intrakanichit. In Thai with English subtitles.

Beautiful Boxer
Beautiful Boxer (2003)

(dir. Ekachai Uekrongtham, Thailand, 2003, 118 minutes)

Director Ekachai Uekrontham's acclaimed debut film is based on the true story of Thailand's famed transgendered kickboxer, Parinya Charoenphol (affectionately known as Nong Toom in Thailand), whose winnings from fighting in the ring funded his sex-change operation. Packed with breathtaking Thai kickboxing sequences, Beautiful Boxer traces Nong Toom's childhood, teenage life as a traveling monk, and grueling days in boxing camps as he sets out to master the most masculine and lethal sport of Muay Thai (Thai boxing) to earn a living and to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming a woman. Cast: Asanee Suwan, Sorapong Chatree, Orn-anong Panyawong, Kyoko Inoue, Sitiporn Niyom. In Thai with English subtitles.

Last Life in the Universe (Ruang rak noi nid mahasan)
Last Life in the Universe (Ruang rak noi nid mahasan) (2003)

(dir. Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Thailand, 2003, 112 minutes)

In Thailand, a suicidal, obsessive-compulsive Japanese librarian named Kenji (Tadanobo Asano) on the lam from Japanese gangsters hides out with his polar opposite, a food-obsessed Thai bar girl named Noi (Sinitta Boonyasak), at her beachside home. Slowly, as Noi begins to seduce Kenji back to life, more is revealed about him and why he's suicidal and living in Bangkok.The beautiful cinematography is by veteran Hong Kong lenser Christopher Doyle (In the Mood for Love, 2046) and prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike makes a cameo as a Japanese gangster. Cast: Asano Tadanobu, Sinitta Boonyasak, Laila Boonyasak, Takeuchi Riki, Matsushige Yutaka, Miike Takashi. In Thai and Japanese with English subtitles.

Nang Nak
Nang Nak (1999)

(dir. Nonzee Nimibutr, Thailand, 1999, 100 minutes)

This Thai horror film tells the heartbreaking story of Nak (Intira Jaroenpura), a devoted and loving wife whose affection for her husband Mak (Winai Kraibutr) is quite powerful. Separated by war, Mak finally returns home to find Nak has given birth to a son. The reunion seems idyllic until Mak gradually awakens to the horrifying truth that both his wife and child died long ago. Cast: Intira Jaroenpura, Winai Kraibutr, Manit Meekaewjaroen, Pracha Thawongfia, Pramote Suksatit. In Thai with English subtitles.

Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone)
Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone) (2000)

(dir. Wisit Sasanatieng, Thailand, 2000, 110 minutes)

Pop art colors (digitally crafted by Oxide Pang) and over-the-top acting make this cult film as much a parody as an homage to Westerns (it's even been called a "Pad Thai" Western) and romantic tearjerkers, as it tells the story of ill-fated lovers Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan)and Rampooey (Stella Malucci), divided by class and social injustice in post-war Thailand. Rumpoey and Dum first met as children when Rumpoey's family evacuated Bangkok during World War II to stay with Dum's family in the countryside of Supanburi. Ten years later Dum has become the bandit Black Tiger and when they meet again they have to overcome parental disapproval and a gang war to stay together. Director Wisit Sasanatieng also wrote the screenplay for the Thai horror film Nang Nak. Cast: Chatchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchi, Supakorn Kitsuwon, Arawat Ruangvuth, Sombati Medhanee, Pairoj Jaisinga. In Thai with English subtitles.