12th Feb2017

Cine-Sunday: ‘Raging Phoenix’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jija Yanin, David Bueno, Marc Nghi Hoang | Written by Sompope Vejchapipat | Directed by Rashane Limtrakul

raging-phoenix-dvd

Deu, a rock and roll drummer abandoned by her family and recently sacked from her band, finds herself being pursued by a gang of kidnappers. She is rescued from their clutches by Sanim, a master of an obscure drunken fighting technique known as Meyraiyuth. After informing Deu that she is the target of the Jaguar Gang, a group of criminals who kidnap young women and extract their pheromones to sell as a potent aphrodisiac on the black market, Sanim and his three sidekicks – Pigshit, Dogshit and Bullshit – agree to train her in their unique methods of combat. Her training complete, Deu insists on joining Sanim and the others in infiltrating the Jaguar Gang’s underground lair and bringing down their lucrative and exploitative people trafficking empire. Their mission brings them face to face with a horde of murderous thugs led by a fearsome she-boss who proves to be more than a match for Deu and her new friends, all of whom have their own scores to settle with this most deadly of foes.

The follow up to Chocolate, Raging Phoenix once again shows off Jija Yanin’s awesome martial arts skills in what starts out a traditional kung-fu revenge flick before veering of into a wierd Temple of Doom style conclusion that edges almost in to the surreal… In essence the film is all Yanin, and like that other Thai martial arts superstar Tony Jaa, Yanin does all her own stunts without the aid of wires etc., and puts on a display of martial arts excellence that rivals Jackie Chan’s early days. In fact watching the film I couldn’t help but think of Chan’s Drunken Master films, both movies use the same drunken kung-fu theme, but in the case of Raging Phoenix, they also add aspects of hip hop and street dance into the mix to create a style of fighting that I don’t think we’ve seen on screen before. And it really impresses.

With Raging Phoenix, Jija Yanin proves without a shadow of a doubt that she is THE premiere female martial arts star, taking over the mantel from stars such as Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Yeoh. But she is more than just a mere fighter, she also has an air of innocence and a huge heart, you only have to see her tearful display at the conclusion of the epic rope-bridge fight – a fight which features some of the most stunning martial arts fight choreography – to see that.

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