Director: Piti Jaturaphat
Producer: Jirun Ratthanaviriyachai
Starring: Than Thanakorn, David Bueno, Perawatch Herabutya, Nattanun Jantarawetch, Andrew Koji, Nahatai Lekbumrung
Duration: 82 min
BBFC Certification: 15
Now I'm a big martial arts fan, but I'm starting to get a bit tired of all the unimaginative sub-par efforts that are being released these days (largely out of Thailand) and I'm afraid to say that Blood Fighter (a.k.a. FB: Fighting Beat) is one of them.
A group of friends live in a Thai tourist spot and spend their days running diving tours and their nights at an uncle's bar hosting a rigged fighting tournament to keep the foreign punters happy. Everything is running smoothly until some thugs barge into town intent on taking the bar and running their own boxing gym, driving out the local competition. Khem (Than Thanakorn), who's father got killed by a man following a similar bunch and is now living with a Muay Thai boxing master, won't let this group get their way and when they threaten the safety of his friends he gets really mad...
It's uninspired and predictable stuff, although to be fair it has a strange relaxed tone in the first half that I kind of liked and this helped give it it's own individual character, but it soon loses this and other flaws spoil proceedings. The story elements about how tourism affected their lives was vaguely interesting to begin with too although the usual clunky patriotism reared it's ugly head quite quickly and the whole strand was pushed aside in favour of a typical revenge story by the end.
Action-wise it's a real mixed bag unfortunately. There's a lot of action and it's spread nice and evenly through the brief running time, but the quality varies wildly. Clearly Than is the real martial artist in the cast as his fight scenes are generally quite good and he pulls off some impressive acrobatic Muay Thai moves, but most of the rest of the actors struggle a great deal. The female leads in particular are painfully feeble even though they are supposed to have received a reasonable amount of training themselves. Of course having weaker characters is not a problem, but it's more the fact that they are supposed to be doing damage at times and they clearly aren't putting enough power into their kicks or punches to do so. There are also a lot of instances where the hits clearly aren't connecting (this is a problem throughout, not just with the ladies). A lot of the grapples and throws in the film have poor continuity too and the physics of where characters fall or are hurt is baffling at times.
As well as uneven action, the film itself gets incredibly uneven in tone by the end. A turn of events shifts the film towards quite a dark climax, but this is interspersed with some painfully unfunny comedy that is so messily intercut with the main strand that it jars badly.
It's all just a bit too flimsy in the end really. There's a good amount of action, some of which is fairly well done, but the film has a 'thrown together' sort of feel where nothing quite flows or sticks that makes the film quite disappointing even for a martial arts junkie like myself.
Blood Fighter is released on DVD by Metrodome in the UK on 15th August. It contains no special features but the transfer and audio are solid.