The Tiger Blade (2005) / Action-Comedy
aka Seua Khaap Daap
aka Tiger Must Die
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably R for violence, sexuality and language
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Atsadawut Luengsuntorn, Phimonrat Phisarayabud, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Srungsuda Lawanprasert, Amornrit Sriphung, Chalad Na Songkhla
Director: Theeratorn Siriphunvaraporn
Here's proof that there's more to making a good action movie than just good action scenes. The Tiger Blade is a nonsensical film made in a blender. All of the usual staples are thrown in -- the maverick cop, the menacing villain, the comic relief sidekick, hot cars, scantily-clad babes, high-tech gadgetry, and high-flying action. For all of these qualities, the necessary story elements are astonishingly missing -- no set-up, no build-up, no tangible plot, no character development, no moments of interesting dialogue, and no sense of logic, reason, or importance in nearly anything that happens. Yes, the necessary ingredients may have been thrown in a blender, but without a recipe to follow, all we get is unpalatable mush.
So, in this paragraph, I usually make an attempt to give the plot, which is usually the easiest part of my review, since that is the most basic thing to write about any movie -- what it's all about. As I watched The Tiger Blade, I couldn't help but laugh at how difficult this chore would be, as they appeared to begin shooting without anything resembling an actual story. Basically it's a standard cops vs. criminals set-up, but the criminals have dabbled in some sort of ancient magic that keeps them protected, leaving the cops to have to secure an ancient magic of their own to fight them in the form of a rusty old sword known as the Tiger Blade.
That's the best I can do, folks. You want a motive as to the bad guys intent on mayhem? Can't help you. You want a background to what this ancient magic is all about? The script, if this film even has one, falls short there too. The Tiger Blade is completely replete of any expository information that would help us have a rooting interest in anything at all. After each action scene, we are treated either to some goofy attempt at comedy that makes no sense, or more of the same style of action.
Director Theeratom Siriphunvaraporn treats his film as if it were an experiment of action filmmaking technique rather than a wholehearted attempt of making a movie. Lots of different styles and camera techniques are employed, but even these have no real sense of general motif or consistency in execution. It's as if Siriphunvaraporn merely tried to replicate the visual style of action scenes in more successful and exciting films, as if the quality of the mimicry would surely mean a recreation of the excitement. Alas, that is not the case. He only knows one mode of filmmaking, which is to deliver as much eye-candy as possible without bogging the film down with drama or details.
I often like to use baseball analogies in describing the effect of films, and I shall do so here. The Tiger Blade is made by a director who, like a major league pitcher, throws fastball after fastball in order to get the job done. As anyone that follows baseball can tell you, pitching isn't really about how fast you can throw, but in changing things up to keep the hitter off-balance as to what pitch you're going to toss next. Siriphunvaraporn has one hell of a high heater, but that seems to be the only pitch he knows -- a blazing fastball that strikes right at the heart of the plate. It may be enough to gain success for a little while, but once it appears to everyone that it's the only pitch he can throw, disaster results. Time to for the coaches to send him to the minors to work on some new pitches, or find that every outing he'll have will be a bad one.
©2006 Vince Leo