AKA: Khon Fai Bin, Fire Warriors
Director: Chalerm Wongpim
Writer: Chalerm Wongpim
Producer: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Dan Chupong, Panna Rittikrai, Leo Putt, Puttipong Sriwat, Samart Tipthamai, Kanyapak Suwannakoot, Samart Payakarun
Running Time: 103 min.
Dan Chupong is a legitimate bad-ass. The stuntman/actor paid his dues with the famous Muay Thai Stunt team, performing stunts in “Ong Bak” (2003) before stepping in front of the camera to act in 2004’s “Born to Fight,” even if he had to share the spotlight with about a dozen other Thai athletes and ass-kickers. In 2006, Chupong was granted his own starring vehicle: the Thai martial arts/”Western” Khai fai Bin, dubbed “Dynamite Warrior” in the US.
The plot is actually pretty unique and not your usual “someone has stolen a Thai relic and our hero must get it back.” It’s set in the late 1800’s, back when Thailand was relying heavily on water buffalos to help plow its rice fields, rice being the country’s chief export. Dan Chupong plays a masked Thai cowboy who roams the countryside recovering stolen buffalos and returning them to the poor farmers. Besides his Robin Hood-like ways, he’s also on the hunt for the man he saw murder his parents when he was just a child.
“Dynamite Warrior” sets its action-packed pace right from its opening scene, when Dan takes on about 30 cattle rustlers and decimates them with a mix of Muay Thai blows and his seemingly infinite supply of rockets. Yeah, the title “Dynamite Warrior” is something of a misnomer; what Chupong actually wields is less like dynamite and more like firecracker rockets minus the part that makes pretty lights. Either way, it’s a blast to watch Chupong ride into battle on top of what is basically a giant missile.
The fight scenes are choreographed by Panna Rittikrai, the same guy responsible for the hard-hitting combat in “Ong Bak” and its myriad of sequels. In a cool change of pace, Mr. Rittikrai even has a rather large onscreen supporting role. Just don’t go into this expecting the full-on, foot-to-face level of contact you see in Tony Jaa’s movies; the fights here are a bit more staged but still entertaining.
What really sets “Dynamite Warrior” apart from other Thai action flicks is the supernatural aspect of its plot and action scenes. I won’t spoil anything here but the mystical element only increases as the movie goes on and there several characters who fight with a strength that is more than human. In some ways, the zany energy of this flick and its supernatural-enhanced kung fu reminded me of the 80’s John Carpenter classic “Big Trouble In Little China.” By the end battle things have got that whole ‘good wizard vs. bad wizard, shake the pillars of heaven’ kind of vibe, a rarity for movies these days.
Dan Chupong reportedly took acting lessons before filming “Dynamite Warrior.” I can’t say it really shows in the final product but Chupong has an innocent-faced quality that makes him a likable protagonist. My only knock against this film is that menstrual blood plays an embarrassingly large role in the plot (seriously) and I still can’t understand why Asian movies love to hover the threat of rape over every female character, something that can drain the fun vibes out of any flick. Fortunately, nothing stomach-churning happens here. “Dynamite Warrior” remains one of the better Thai action flicks I’ve seen that doesn’t star Tony Jaa.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 7/10