|Reviews & Columns|
TV on DVD
Reviews by Studio
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
DVD Talk Radio
The M.O.D. Squad
DVD Talk Forum
DVD Price Search|
Customer Service #'s
Born to Fight (1986)
Well now this was pretty darn confusing at first, but I think I have it figured out. I recently received a pair of movies called Born to Fight, both of which are action flicks from Thai filmmaker Panna Rittikrai. The review you're reading now is for the 1986 version, which I couldn't even locate on the IMDb, so you just know it's a "cult" flick. Apparently this is the film that inspired Tony Jaa to become a martial arts star -- and it was Rittikrai who helped him become just that.
The plot of Born to Fight is completely and entirely superfluous: A lawyer for a crime family discovers that someone's been stealing money from the clan, but before Sianfong can speak up and finger the thief, Tungseung sends a group of martial arts ass-kickers to silence the stool pigeon. Sianfong ends up on the run in Thailand, where (evetually) he comes across a cop (played by the director), who aims to return the lawyer to Hong Kong. (Most of the movie focuses on the cop's fruitless efforts to locate the lawyer.) But none of that is even remotely important. The plot exists only to give you a small breather between the insanely kinetic action scenes.
Actually, though, the action dies down in a big way once the heroic cop finishes training, beats down some thugs, and gets enlisted for an assignment he doesn't want. Most of Act II consists of policeman Tong wandering around Thai villages, occasionally grabbing a few clues as to who he's supposed to be protecting, while stopping once in a while to beat down some thugs or troublemakers. Meanwhile, a bunch of pointless subplots regarding real estate, rice, nephews and criminals fill the dead air time between moments of mayhem.
Truth be told, you could absolutely skip through any of the talky sections of Born to Fight and focus exclusively on the action scenes, which are '70s-style martial arts lunacy all the way. Goofy editing (generally used to "replay" the rougher punches), crazy sound effects, hard-hitting kicks to the head ... they're all here, and most of 'em are quite a bit of fun. Keep in mind that these movie were made exclusively for the action scenes, and components like plot, dialogue, and characterization was simply used as filler material.
So judging the flick on its own kitschy merits, the original Born to Fight (yes, there was a remake) is a passable example of the Thailand martial arts import. The only material that matters -- the action stuff -- is scrappy and unpolished, but there's some really slick butt-kickings in this flick. (Our hero has a thing for smashing his opponents through things.) And there's a motorbike chase that features some of the craziest "practical" stuntwork you'll ever see. The guys basically drive right into trucks and fling their bodies through billboards with no fear whatsoever. It's pretty wild.
Video: The cheesy old action flick is delivered in a tacky-looking, dirty, and entirely appropriate-looking UHF-style fullframe presentation. OK, it looks better than it would on UHF ... but not by much.
Audio: It's a monaural audio track, whether you opt for the original Thai soundtrack (with optional English subtitles) or the very goofy English dub track.
First up is a 16-minute Thai TV interview with Tony Jaa. The young action star cites Born to Fight as one of his favorite movies, and one that inspired him to pursue a career in the movies. There's also a 4-minute interview with producer Chokchai Melewan, a really strange pair of Ong-Bak spoofs.
The highlight of the supplemental material is a 35-minute featurette entitled "Fearless Maniacs," which focuses on the lunatics who threw their bodies into and through a variety of hard objects in an effort to create some memorable action scenes. Suffice to say they did. (All of the extras are in Thai with optional English subtitles.)
If you love the new Thai action flicks (like Ong-Bak and Tom Young Goong) and you'd like to see "the early years," then you'll probably get a kick out of Born to Fight. Several kicks, actually, but be prepared to lean on that FF button from time to time.