Raging Phoenix (Thailand 2009)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/15/10
Cast: Jeeja Yanin (Yanin Vismitananda), Kazu Patrick Tang

After her impressive action debut in "Chocolate" (2008), adorable Jeeja Yanin is back in action and doing her best impersonation of a young Yukari Oshima. Young women are being kidnapped and harvested for their tears. Deu (Jeeja Yanin) is targeted by the kidnappers for having a particular pheromone signature, but she is rescued by a skilled martial artist named Sanim (Kazu Patrick Tang). Sanim's gang practices drunken breakdancing, which resembles Brazilian Capoeira, and their goal is to destroy the kidnapping ring. Unfortunately, this proves to be extremely difficult as their headquarters are located inside a ridiculous subterranean cavern and the leaders of the ring are lethal fighters.

While the action scenes are exciting and incredibly brutal, the film favors outrageousness over straight forward action. The film's first action sequence involves a bunch of guys fighting in anti-gravity shoes, which is technically impressive, but just downright silly. The film's climax also dives into absurdity as it takes place on a series of illogical rope bridges that span a seemingly bottomless pit. Not only does it look stupid, but it also makes no sense. Fortunately, the film manages to redeem itself at the very end when Deu finally enters "rage mode" and goes completely berserk on the nigh invulnerable villain, with bone crushing results. There's also a little too much wirework for my tastes, but the results are still physically impressive. The stunt players in the film suffer dearly for their art, and the full contact punches and kicks look excruciatingly painful. I don't care what anyone says - getting hit in the head with someone's knee has got to hurt, even if it's done softly. As is often the case with Thai films, the structure and story telling is challenging and hard to follow. It's difficult to reconcile the first half of the film with the second half, and it feels like two different films. The editing, music, and humor are also terrible. However, if you can suffer through its weaknesses, the film does offer several helpings of extremely satisfying female action and martial arts mayhem. Yanin is much more attractive and engaging this time around and continues to impress.