08th Aug2013

Fight Flick Fortnight: ‘Force of Five’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sasisa Jimdamanee, Johnny Nguyen, Nantawooti Boonrapsap, Arunya Pawilai, Nawarat Techarathanaprasert, Paytaai Wongkamlao | Written byNonont Kontaweesook, Napalee | Directed by Krissanapong Rachata

Power-Kids

Despite their small size and inexperience, having grown up under the roof of a Muay Thai school two young brothers and their friends have become highly skilled, if undisciplined, martial artists. Sadly, the youngest of the gang suffers from an acute heart condition, which following a minor scuffle with some local bullies lands him in hospital and desperately in need of a life-saving transplant. Fortunately, a viable heart soon becomes available at another local hospital, but before it can be transferred the building is overtaken by rebel soldiers-turned-terrorists prepared to kill if their politically-driven demands are not met by the authorities.

With only four hours in which the surgery can be performed successfully, the young friends take it upon themselves to infiltrate the hospital and retrieve the donated organ. Armed with only their martial arts skills and the will to save their friend’s life, this small group of mini Muay Thai marvels embarks on a desperate race against time in which they will be forced to defy danger, confront an army of terrorists and make an heroic bid to overcome insurmountable odds.

Another new martial arts film out of Thailand, Force of Five (aka Power Kids) is little different from the rest of the current crop of muay-thai, kick-boxing, kung-fu, Thai action movies that have eminated from that territory in the past few years – films such as Ong Bak, Warrior King, Born to Fight, Chocolate, and the recently released in the UK, Raging Phoenix. And it’s not surprising that they’re all not that dissimilar as ALL of these movies, along with Force of Five, were produced by Prachya Pinkaew, Panna Rittikrai and Sukanya Vongsthapat. A trio who seem to have a knack for creating hit martial art movies… Where Force of Five does differ from previous efforts is that the films leads are all child actors – kung-fu ass-kicking actors that is!

The plot of Force of Five is typical of Pinkaew et al. - underdogs from the streets take on ‘the man’ and win. The action – that’s typical too. No wires, plenty of Jackie Chan inspired slow-mo, crazy stunts, lots of laughs (despite the cultural barrier) and amazing martial arts action. Now add on top that these are all child actors and you have one madcap, mind-blowingly awesome kung-fu-fest.

Whilst the film is an ensemble piece there is one stand-out performance in the movie from actress Sasisa Jimdamanee, who was previously in Born to Fight. Her martial arts skills are amazing, and seeing such skill in one so young is surprising – she leaps around the scenery, over her co-stars, through walls, doors windows and more. Her ‘trademark’ move seems to be leaping up to people twice her size and, in what looks to be an incredibly vicious move, kneeing people in the head! It’s quite a sight to see… And the rest of the cast of kung-fu kids don’t seem to have any trouble kicking the arses of guys twice their size too!

Another great film from what is swiftly becoming known as the new home of martial arts movies, Thailand, Force of Five deserves a place in the collections of all good action movie fans.

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