Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It’s kind of cool to watch the growth of a film industry, or growth in the terms of what gets shuttled over here to the mainland. So with Thailand we get see the explosion of their action star Tony Jaa and his various films and we also get to the privilege of seeing numerous freaky Asian ghost stories, Thai style. Today we get to watch the emergence of one Michael B., a new face on the Thai action block and one that is being propped up as being the next big Thai Action Star with his new movie ‘Brave’. Since they didn’t subtitle the credits in this movie, and since I can’t decipher the Thai alphabet, I have no idea what the real names are of any of the other characters in this movie outside of Michael B. so I’m gonna have to wing it on those.

As the film starts we see our star Michael B., playing a character called Bee, all suited up with his hair moussed to distraction and sporting a pair of dope Foster-Grants while standing outside a tall office building. Being guided by an unseen handler via his Bluetooth, Bee makes his way to the floor of his destination towards his predetermined target inside this major Banking facility, beats up two pretty receptionist who surprisingly know Kung Fu and enters into the adjoining office where surprisingly all of the office workers know Kung Fu, who also get beat up for their trouble. Bee finally makes it to the office of the pretty woman with the perfect boobies who runs this company, gives her a USB drive and has her download all of the client information and then cleverly slips out the front door amidst a crap load of police interference.

What we will learn is that Bee is not really a criminal but a super nice guy who happens to have a ton of martial arts skill. He’s stays with his cherished brother-in-law, who is like the Thai version of Sammo Hung, and together they run a coffee shop while missing his late sister, Thai Sammo’s wife, who’s been gone a number of years now. Though it’s never made entirely clear, the sister apparently was murdered back in the day which made Bee go totally nuts and ended up landing him in jail with a record.

Life was cool until an evil man who could very well be Lance Henriksen’s Asian doppelganger kidnapped Thai Sammo and forced Bee to commit this opening scene crime. The fallout from the robbery is pretty massive causing Perfect Boobies husband who owned the bank to take the easy way out, and more importantly forcing Henriksen’s Doppelganger to eliminate all loose ends, particularly Bee and Thai Sammo. Well these two aren’t as easy to take out as one would imagine, and in another incredibly long fight sequence they escape death, but when Henricksen’s Doppelganger kidnaps Perfect Boobies to make her his own personal slave of love, this pair of reluctant heroes has go into the lions den to make things right. But if Bee and Thai Sammo knew what we know they probably would have given this rescue effort of theirs a second thought and went on back to Malaysia.

After the opening action sequence in ‘Brave’ at the office building, which quite honestly was rather lackluster and silly, I didn’t hold out much hope for this movie being the next ‘Ong Bak’ or anything, and then as the silliness grew when we got to spend some more time with Bee I was of the mindset that I was about to waste a good ninety or so minutes of my life watching this mess. But to the credit to directors Thanapon Maliwon and Afdlin Shuaki they ever so gradually amped up their movie to make it harder, tougher, rougher and more brutal that by the time it was over I had almost done a complete 180. I try to explain to people that doing a 360 puts right back where you started but do they listen to me? The bulk of the movie is three of the longest most drawn out fight sequences I’ve ever seen, but they do get progressively better with each scene. Mike B. is obviously very athletic and is quite capable of doing some pretty amazing stunts, and in the true Tony Jaa vein there are no wires, no stuntmen and they even use that tired Tony Jaa technique a couple of times of re-showing the scene in slow-mo just in case you missed it the first time. Though Mike B. doesn’t perform quite at the physical level of Mr. Jaa, he still did more than enough to carry this movie.

The story that frames these drawn out sequences was pretty weak as characters are introduced that had little or no bearing on the narrative, as well as various plot points that were fairly worthless and probably could have been left out. The story tried to beef itself up late in the game with a few twists thrown in the mix, and it did help a little bit, but they ruined what little steam it had built up with a silly and contrived ending sequence. There was also a scene in here when we were led to believe that Bee had died, and though we knew he wasn’t dead considering he’s star of the movie and all, it would have been nice to know how in the hell dude survived a fall from a fifteen story building into a dumpster that was subsequently blown up with a hand grenade. Just curious is all.

So ‘Brave’ really isn’t a great movie but I’d be lying if I told it you I wasn’t entertained by it and it’s new action star Michael B. Shakespeare can rest easy because he has very little to worry about, but Tony Jaa better watch his six, because I’m thinking the kid can only get better.

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