Going native, for the 12 millionth time.
In a conceit that has pretty much lost all durability, can Muay Thai Warrior invigorate the stranger-in-a-strange-land-who-becomes-aligned-with-his-captors-mostly-thanks-to-the-fact-there’s-a-pretty-girl-involved-and-he’s-super-horny plot device?
A fresh-faced samurai named Yamada (Seigi Ozeki) is all primed to get his Bushido on when he’s undercut by some of his samurai brethren and left to die a lonely honor-free death. He’s found by a group of Siamese monks and brought back to their small jungle commune for extended rest and relaxation. While he rehabilitates, he absorbs the new culture, makes googly-eyes at his attractive wet nurse and develops a hankering to learn some bad-ass Muay Thai skills.
This yearning to cave some fool’s skull in with his elbow eventually comes to fruition and he’s soon welcomed into the brotherhood. His newfound allegiance — and deadly skill set — will get tested when he ends up squaring off against the very same samurai brothers who kneecapped him.
Nothing new here. It’s the same song and dance you’ve seen in countless films, from Delgo to Avatar. None of the plot twists will surprise you and none of the character arcs will take you in a narrative direction you’ve never seen before.
Which leaves us with this fundamental question: Is this samurai/boxer hybrid a weapon of sweet on-screen action?
The answer: Nerp.
Oh what could have been! I’d still decry the derivative nature of it all, but I would be more forgiving if the mayhem were as dope as promised. Renegade samurai, trained in the arts of Muay Thai lethality, blending together disciplines to unleash fatal fury and rain down blows upon his nemeses? Hellz yeah!
Two problems: 1) The fight scenes are sparse, and 2) when they do show, the choreography leaves much to be desired. Actually, there’s really only one fight scene to speak of. It’s not too shabby, featuring sustained violence and some fleeting CGI gore. But it’s mainly sword-swinging and off-camera shenanigans and no feats of athleticism that will earn the film playback to your friends. The biggest letdown is the finale. I was expecting a grand face off between Yamada and his jilted brethren, but the capper is a quick, dark brouhaha that underwhelms. Figures that the one derivation that isn’t followed would have been the most exciting.
Well Go USA gives Muay Thai Warrior (Blu-ray) a bare-bones release: a rich, colorful, and textured 1.78:1/1080p HD widescreen transfer; 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Thai and Japanese with English subtitles); and no extras.
Familiar. And a blown chance. Bleh.