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Thailand (2008), 110 minutes
Starring: Jija” Yanin Vismistananda, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabanjong
Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
Genre: Martial Arts
Rating: 5

Readers of this site know about my love affair with Japanese cinema, and I’m also a huge fan of Chinese and Korean movies. The Thai film industry though, is still lagging far behind the three giants just mentioned. However, things are slowly turning around for them. Bangkok Dangerous (by the Pang Brothers, 2000) was the first Thai film that caught my attention, then Killer Tattoo (directed by Yuthlert Sippapak, 2001) proved extremely entertaining, and Last Life In The Universe (directed by Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, 2003) knocked my socks off (in fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite movies). When the amazing Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (directed by Prachya Pinkaew, 2003) and its star, Tony Jaa, took the world by storm, it was clear that Thailand had hit the world stage. Yes, they still have a long way to go, but anyone that ignores the latest releases from this country is a stone cold fool.

Now the same director and martial arts choreographer (Panna Rittikrai) who brought you Ong-Bak have done it again with the excellent Chocolate. This is a tale of an autistic girl with heightened reflexes and senses that, by watching movies and staring at the students at a marital arts school next door, becomes a fearsome fighter. Though very small in stature and looking 16 or 17 in the film, this 24 year-old actress (who happens to have a background in Taekwando) rips through dozens of men as if they were confetti and, in her very first movie, has instantly made herself the new first lady of martial arts.

Chocolate features a loose script, but the many odd/bizarre characters, mixed with Miss Vismistananda’s acting and fighting skills, makes this a must see for any fan of martial arts cinema.

One final word: when the actual movie ends, keep watching! A clip appears showing the many accidents and injuries the actors had during filming. It seems everyone (including Vismistananda) suffered some serious pain, and the filmmakers let you see what can happen when everyone does their own stunts.