Vanquisher (Thailand 2009)

Rating: *
Alternate Title: Final Target
Review Date: 4/10/11
Cast: Sophita Sriban, Jacqui A. Thananon, Nui Ketsarin (Kessarin Ektawatkul), Pete Tongchuer

Unbelievable. I heard this film was bad, but I never expected anything THIS bad. The production team behind "Ong Bak" (2003), "Born To Fight" (2004), and "Tom Yom Goong" (2005) aims for an international market with this female action movie, and fails miserably on all accounts. The only nice things I can say are that it's well lit and Nui Ketsarin is SUPER hot.

The plot, what little there is, is an incoherent mess of action clichés. The CIA is planning to start a war in Thailand and blame it on international terrorism, just like they did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claire (Jacqui Thananon) is a black ops specialist who is assigned to track down a man who has some intel on the CIA, and blame him for the bomb that she's going to detonate. She recruits friends from Japan as well as the Thai police to help her on this mission, but then that plot gets abandoned when a woman from Claire's past shows up (Sophita Sriban) who bears a grudge against her. Everything eventually boils down to a three-way fight between Claire, Gunja (Sriban), and a Thai officer (Nui Ketsarin) who also has history with Claire.

First of all, the acting is ATROCIOUS, and the first five minutes of the film feature some of the worst dialog delivery I've ever seen. Rule number one when trying to make an "international" film: Don't have actors try to perform in foreign languages. Most of the actors in the film are not English speakers, and yet half of the dialog is in English (for no good reason). It's clear that the actors have no idea what they're even saying, which makes all of the dialog awkward and unconvincing. And it's not like they have anything interesting to say, so why are they bothering with talking at all? The visual effects are amazingly awful and bring way too much attention to themselves, but the digital blood is decent and surprisingly subtle. Somewhat of a surprise from this team is that the fight scenes and action scenes are really poor. The choreography and cinematography are bad, the execution is lacking, the wire-work is ridiculous, and drop-frame editing and dissovles are used in a broken attempt to quicken the pace. I haven't seen anything this incompetent in a long time and I was slack-jawed in disbelief. National Tae Kwon Do champion Nui Ketsarin is the only one who can throw a half decent kick, but her scenes are still a mess.

The film tries hard to play up the sex appeal angle with the three leads, and throws a Japanese female agent into the mix as well. Lots of plunging cleavage and slow motion beauty shots are employed, which look nice but are ultimately pointless. It's also amusing to note that all the men in the film go into battle wearing full body armor while all the women go into combat wearing sexy belly-baring tank tops. Not that I'm complaining, but the absurdity is a bit overwhelming. It's also a hoot to see ninja with cell phones, but you think they'd be smart enough to turn off their ring tones. Sophita Sriban is given star billing, but her delivery is flat and she's completely uninteresting. She does provide us with a useful chemistry lesson when she ignites a wet opponent with a handful of magnesium powder, but the results are laughably poor.