Martial Arts Action as Never Seen Before!
Koreans Moon (Cho Jae Hyun, The Weight) and his wife Yoon (Ye Ji Won, Hanji) are former Olympic Taekwondo hopefuls who have spent the last two decades building a school and a family in Thailand. Their oldest son Tae Yang (Tae-joo Na, Hi-eo-ro) foils a robbery of a Thai national artifact, and in doing so brings down upon the family the wrath of the thieves he thwarted. Led by Seok Du (Kwan-hun Lee), the gang of criminals take revenge upon the family, kidnapping youngest son Typhoon (Thanathep Sucharitchan) and forcing a showdown.
Tae Yang is a 20-year-old Olympic taekwondo hopeful; in fact he’s only 28 days out from the Olympic trials. When he literally stumbles into the robbery situation, he promptly has his butt handed to him. And this isn’t a one-time thing. There’re a few scenes which make you wonder about this guy’s skills. In fact he isn’t able to kick anyone’s butt until he combines his martial arts training with his love of dance.
And that right there is the marriage of opposites The Kick displays: asking the audience to believe a kid who’s been trained for well over a decade by a former Olympic taekwondo hopeful cannot fight a group of thugs until he hears that special song he’s prepared a dance/martial arts hybrid routine for.
There’s a definite goofy Jackie Chan-ish vibe going on, and though The Kick does try to get serious, you can’t have it both ways when dealing with a revenge plot paired with a slapstick routine. Or if you can, The Kick isn’t an example of how to do it.
What saves The Kick is that the action supervisor is Panna Rittikrai, the martial arts choreographer of both Ong Bak and The Protector, two of martial arts superstar Tony Jaa’s biggest movies. So you’re guaranteed to have some pretty awesome beat downs, and the movie doesn’t disappoint. Sure, the good guys aren’t exactly destroying their enemies left and right, but the fighting is such that at no point do you honestly care who’s getting beat, you just want to watch.
And once you adjust to the tone of the movie, The Kick is a gleeful little bit of fun. A big chunk of the cast credits this as their first movie, and that’s surprising since they hold up really well, and the action set pieces will have you wincing in sympathy. Director Prachya Pinkaew (Elephant White) paces the movie well, so though you wonder what the bad guys are waiting for at one moment, you’re quickly moving from one point to the next.
As I watched, I had the thought running through my mind that these guys were probably really feeling some of those punches/kicks/etc. And I was proven right with the montage. A treat which should have been its own special feature, there’s a montage which runs through the closing credits showing the stunts that went wrong, with all sorts of people getting hurt for real. That part alone validates watching The Kick.
The video feed isn’t going to blow your mind, but this is an action movie, not really the type of film concerned with displaying the beauty of the Thai landscapes. That being said, the palette was consistent, full to the point of realism but not noticeably saturated. The only technical glitch was the obvious blue screen shots, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. The audio is two Dolby 5.1 tracks, one in Korean and one in English. The English track definitely loses something in translation, however what it subtracts in dramatic effect, it adds in unintentional humor, so that’s the track I preferred. There are no bonus features.
The Kick isn’t going to become your favorite revenge movie of all time, nor will it be the best action/comedy film in your library. However the choreography will hold your attention, and if you’re in the mood to watch some guys getting hurt for real while attempting moves you’d have to be blitzed out of your mind to even contemplate? Well then, this is the film for you.