The bigger they are, the harder they hit.
For astute viewers of Thai action cinema, you may recognize the Muay Thai Giant. He’s Nathan Jones, the monster slab of beef who was beaten mercilessly by Tony Jaa in The Protector. He takes on a significantly softer role here as Barney, a gentle giant who’s a bit slow on the uptake. After arriving in Pataya, he’s mugged and left penniless (and shirtless). There he meets two sisters, one of whom is a junior champion boxer. When the girls run into some trouble with local gangsters, they unlock Barney’s massive fighting skills by giving him a spicy Thai dish. When eaten, his vision blurs, his skin turns red, and he beats up airplanes.
Yeah, I know. Weird.
Magnet Releasing — Magnolia’s studio arm responsible for importing foreign action films — tends to be one of my favorite labels. I’m a sucker for tracking down the hidden gems of overseas mortal combat and Magnet is one of the few distributors doing yeoman’s work to get lesser known actioners into the hands of North Americans. So it is with trepidation I ask for a bit more discernment in what makes the cut.
Muay Thai Giant isn’t a terrible movie, but it is disappointing. And incoherent. And corny.
I’m unsure of what the target audience is supposed to be. Muay Thai Giant has the feel, the slapstick, and non-existent body count of a kids movie. However, it’s also rated R, which doesn’t compute. I ran into a similarly confounding experience with Power Kids, another Magnet release marketed towards a younger crowd, carrying an R rating, and a healthy dose of gun violence.
Identity confusion aside, Muay Thai Giant just isn’t badass enough to recommend. If you’re looking for some well-executed, entertaining action, you will have very little to chew on. Nathan Jones is an impressive physical specimen, but he doesn’t possess the fighting skills to wow. He’ll throw some dudes and tear apart that plane, but other than brute force and some screaming, the guy doesn’t do anything noteworthy. Sasisa Jindamanee plays a young girl with the boxing credentials and she’s tasked with most of the on-screen action. While she obviously knows what she’s doing, it was a blow to the suspension of disbelief watching an 80-pound female land ginger blows on fit, full-grown male boxers, who then predictably crumple in a pile.
The kids might like it, and I have no doubt she could probably put me I the fetal position, but as spectacle, it’s a tough sell. The lone standout: Dan Chupong — who may or may not be the successor to Tony Jaa some day — in a borderline cameo role, beating up some stiffs in a storeroom.
If you dare tread here, Magnolia’s Blu-ray treatment is solid as usual. The 1.78:1 1080p high-definition transfer is robust and colorful, nicely capturing the goofiness of the affair. All of the action happens outside, in varied locations, and the pinpoint video fidelity projects the details of the venues with power. The eye candy is supplemented by a franticly aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (Thai and English). Extras: a pair of short behind-the-scenes featurettes in standard-definition.
Muay Thai Giant isn’t awful. It’s just bizarre and pointless.