When a highly synchronized jailbreak plan puts the heads of a powerful crime organization, as well as the rogue military leader of a neighboring nation, back on the streets of Bangkok, it is up to Yos, one of Thailand’s best police officers, to put them back behind bars. Together with his team of dedicated but not necessarily professional teammates, Yos begins tracking down the criminals, but soon discovers that the black magic they control makes them nigh-invincible and that only the mystical Tiger Blade is strong enough to strike them down.
Yos travels to a remote Buddhist temple, where the legendary sword is said to be hidden, and proves himself worthy of possessing the blade. With the weapon now in hand, Yos begins to make quick work of the wanted convicts and cuts them down in the streets. But as he works his way toward the psychotic leader Five Bullet Bandit, things take a personal turn when Yos’ family is attacked and he suspects there may be a traitor on the police force. The final straw comes when Yos’ teammate is taken captive and assaulted! Yos knows that the Five Bullet Bandit must be stopped no matter the cost, and draws his blade for one final confrontation to avenge those that have been wronged!
When Ong Bak exploded across movie screens and DVD players around the world in 2003, all eyes turned enthusiastically to Thailand as the newest source for insane action and death-defying martial arts. Films like Born To Fight and Tom Yum Goong soon followed, and it became increasingly clear that the acting and storytelling had a lot of catching up to do to the technical prowess of the stuntwork, and that uninspired juvenile humor filler was something we‘d all have to get used to. Theeratorn Siriphunvaraporn’s 2005 martial arts action The Tiger Blade follows much of the same suit, but also incorporates blatantly ridiculous CGI and physics-defying wirework adding a layer of unintentional humor to the mix.
Like a modern day equivalent to the cheapie flicks being pumped out of Indonesia and Malaysia at the height of Hong Kong’s reign over action in the eighties and nineties, The Tiger Blade knows exactly what its purpose is, who its target audience is, and understands how to deliver on that promise at a fraction of the cost. To Siriphunvaraporn’s credit, he knows right out of that gate what his expectations are and does his very best to provide pure Saturday afternoon entertainment to the masses in the form of wicked martial arts choreography and an injection of sexuality. Just don’t expect any gratuitous nudity, as Thailand’s censorship laws are criminally harsh.
With a nearly indecipherable storyline, plot holes so big Tony Jaa could do a double jump kick through them, and uncomfortable running jokes including one of the supporting characters lamenting that his wife is hard to kill, the script is the epitome of filler to pad out the running time and act as a bridge to take the viewer from one action scene to the next. But these scenes in which character development desperately tries to make you care and confusing plot twists try to keep you interested are well worth sitting through to get to the laughably insane and thoroughly enjoyable action sequences. Here, both gunplay and bone-crunching Thai kickboxing choreography are mixed together to bring an exciting hybrid that is geared toward an international audience.
At the center of these martial arts exhibitions is Atsadawut Luengsuntorn who makes his screen debut as Yos (and at the time of this review has yet to show up again) and does an exemplary job at taking names and kicking ass. His acting may leave a lot to be desired, but at the very least when he is unleashed during the fight choreography you can forgive him for trying to look tough and failing miserably. Along with Luengsuntorn is an assortment of equally talented martial artists who can take a beating and keep on ticking. In an attempt to make the action as ludicrous as possible, Siriphunvaraporn employs wirework that is laughably noticeable and CGI that looks like it was created with techniques that haven’t been used since its earliest conception. However these usages are all in good fun, and perhaps Siriphunvaraporn even knows how fake it looks, which simply adds to the wholly enjoyable time you’ll have with this.
The Tiger Blade recalls the watch-it-and-forget-it mentality of the bargain basement kung-fu action that was released in rapid succession some fifteen or twenty years ago, and bases its entire existence on a few key sequences. You may not remember any of the character names or what the movie was supposed to be about, but one this is for sure – you will always remember just how bad the go kart race on the highway looks during the final battle.
BCI brings a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer to this release, as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo mix of the original Thai soundtrack and easy-to-read English subtitles. Also included is an English soundtrack, which is one of the worst dubs you will hear outside of MTV’s dubbing of Volcano High.
Behind-The-Scenes – Find out what action sequences were real, what action moves were green screen and who got hurt in this ten minute featurette which takes a look at some of the key fight scenes in the movie.
Interviews – The director, producer and key actors are all on hand to talk about the origins of the film and their experiences while on the set, which include English subtitles. Intercut in these interviews is additional behind-the-scenes footage and fight training.
Trailer – The original Thai theatrical trailer
Perfect entertainment for a rainy Saturday afternoon.
BCI presents The Tiger Blade. Directed by Theeratorn Siriphunvaraporn. Starring Atsadawut Luengsuntorn, Chalad Na Songkhla, Phimonrat Phisarayabud. Running time: 90 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: May 27, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.