Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

While watching ‘Ong Bak’ director Prachya Pinkaew latest film ‘Chocolate’, a title I completely don’t quite get other than the fact the main character digs M&M’s, I was pretty convinced after a couple of those fighting action sequences that there was no way somebody avoided injury during a few of those scenes. No freaking way. Sure enough while watching the end credits, something Jackie Chan made popular so we could see how badly he got f’d up during some of his shoots, a lot of folks didn’t come out so well during the shooting of this movie. If this movie were shot in the United States I’m pretty sure OSHA would’ve shut them down around day three of shooting. Oh well, those guys hospital stays are our gain as we are privileged to watch one crazy action filled, nonsensical fight fest. Think ‘Rain Man’ meets ‘The 36th Chamber of Shaolin’.

There was something about the woman that Japanese Yakuza mobster Masashi (Hiroshi Abe) just couldn’t resist. Maybe it was the way hair fell as she effortlessly disarmed and kicked the ass of the gunman Masashi had holding a gun to her temple, but he knew he had to have the beautiful lady Zin (Ammara Siripong) despite the fact that she is the right hand lady to the very mobster he’s having this beef with in this land of Thailand in which he is the visitor. She obviously felt the same way as the two engage in a very unwise love affair which is pretty much doomed from the start. To avoid an all out war at the behest of his true love, Masashi returns to Japan and Zin retires from the game with the stipulation from her boss and his loyal legion of violent transvestite henchman (don’t ask – don’t tell) that she will have no more contact with the man.

From their union Zin gives birth to a special needs autistic daughter she will name Zen (Jee Jee Yanin) and the pair, along with Zin’s portly mischievous brother Mom, live a

quiet life, though Zin does slip up here and there in attempting to contact Misashi which gets her in hot water. Unfortunately Zin becomes deathly ill with cancer leading Mom to take advantage of Zen’s autistic savant skill of kicking much ass to collect some debts that he believes are owed to the now retired gangster moll, funds which are needed to pay for the prohibitively expensive chemotherapy treatments.

This doesn’t sit too well with Zin’s former boss or his transvestite henchmen who are now seeking revenge for the attacks against his territories, and quite honestly how hard can it be to take out a balding sickly cancer stricken woman, her fat brother and a fourteen year old 96 pound autistic girl who’s petrified of houseflies? A lot harder than you would think. A lot harder.

I guess part of you ability to enjoy ‘Chocolate’ would be your in your ability to believe that in a thirteen or fourteen year old, 96 pound autistic girl’s ability to lay down literally hundreds of full grown weapon wielding angry dudes twice her size. Though star Jee Jee Yanin is a fully grown twenty four year old woman, she certainly looks all of about thirteen years old in this thing and there was the occasion when you would question whether or not she truly had the strength to inflict as much damage as she was doling out in this flick, but only on occasion.

Also I hope one isn’t looking for a too terribly complex narrative in this flick because director Pinkaew filled the first act of this movie with the plot basics, and then seemed to ask the audience ‘you got all that, right? Because we’re done here. It’s ass kicking time’. He then turns the movie completely over to his young star who goes from one spectacular fight sequence to the next and then on to the next one barely giving the young woman enough time to catch her breath. In the final wash this was not a bad filmmaking decision as Jee Jee Yanin is simply spectacular to behold. She’s crazy fast, super athletic, highly skilled and cute as a button and other than the fact she doesn’t seem like she has nearly enough junk in her trunk to truly hurt somebody, I still wouldn’t want to mess with her. Can the woman act? Well, that’s tough to say since she wasn’t required to do much as far as acting goes which I’m sure was a decision made to help her along as much as possible in her first starring role and as such I’m interested to see what they do with this physical talent in her next role since she can’t play monosyllabic autistic girls in all of her roles. I also kind of dug Hiroshi Abe’s constantly morphing hairdo from scene to scene since I’m guessing he made himself available for whatever he had to do in this movie in between taking care of whatever acting gig he was doing back in his native Japan.

Yes ‘Chocolate’ is almost more of tech demo for the skills of star Jee Jee Yanin and a primer on how to seriously mess up Thai stunt men than fully realized feature film, but it was still mighty entertaining and certainly a movie that anybody who considers themselves even a minor fan of martial arts films should definitely check out.

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