(aka "Born to Fight" or "Kerd Ma Lui" )

 

directed by Panna Rittikrai
Thailand 2004

 

The Thai movies Ong Bak and The Protector signaled the rise of Tony Jaa as a charismatic action star. Using fighting styles that originated in Thailand, Jaa dazzled action fans with running knee kicks and elbow blows to the tops of his opponents’ heads. Undoubtedly, Jaa’s no-nonsense brutality developed a cult following even here in North America, so the Weinstein brothers made a deal to release Born to Fight on DVD via their Dragon Dynasty label.

Born to Fight was directed by one of the creators of Ong Bak and The Protector. The movie opens with an extended prologue that is short on exposition but heavy on people climbing on top of moving trucks and then falling off of the same moving trucks. In one sequence, a flaming truck crashes through shacks built on a hillside--an obvious reference to the opening of Jackie Chan’s Police Story. The rest of the movie follows a group of athletes to a small village, where the athletes donate food, toys, and other provisions to the impoverished. A guerilla group takes the village hostage, and when the guerillas’ leader decides to shoot a nuclear missile into the heart of Bangkok, the villagers decide to fight for the survival of their country’s capitol.

Born to Fight reminded me of Hong-Kong action movies from the Bruce-Lee era. Bruce Lee was in a wave of movies that demonstrated Chinese patriotism via the nationalistic practice of kung fu. Born to Fight features Thai athletes who often compete on behalf of their country, including Olympic gold medalist Somrak Khamsing (boxing). At one point, the athletes stand up and sing the Thai national anthem before fighting the bad guys. As the movie proceeds to its non-stop-fighting finale, most of the athletes are showcased utilizing their unique skills in fighting. Some of them kick balls that knock out enemies, and some of them use gymnastics routines to outfox the guerillas.

The use of athletic skills for fighting could’ve been acceptable to some degree, but the level of incorporation is rather low. Born to Fight is meant to be understood as a “realistic” street-brawling thriller, not a supernatural martial-arts fantasy. Therefore, the stunts are mostly silly and unbelievable despite the fact that the performers probably spent hours preparing their moves. When
the camera observes a gymnast doing routines on parallel bars, the movie basically stops dead in its tracks. I watched this movie with my dad, and he and I just kept laughing at the movie despite its dead-earnest seriousness. Instead of being awed by the commotion, we rolled our eyes at over-choreographed nonsense.

Unlike most action movies, Born to Fight doesn’t really even bother to have a story. What you get is a lame premise, a main character who disappears for long stretches of time, numbingly repetitive techno-music, and action choreography that induces disbelief rather than awe or admiration. With Tony Jaa, at the very least you get a fighter fighting for real instead of athletes kicking balls at men with guns.

Yunda Eddie Feng

Posters

Theatrical Release: 5 August 2004

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Genius Products (Two-Disc Ultimate Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Yunda Eddie Feng for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Genius Products

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 96 min
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 8.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Thai, DUB: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 Thai
Subtitles English, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Genius Products

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• audio commentary by Bey Logan
• The Making of an Action Epic
• Action! On the Set of Born to Fight
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• U.S. Promotional Trailer
• previews for other movies

DVD Release Date: 25 April 2007
slim double-keepcase

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments:

Video:
Born to Fight is a recent movie, but I was still surprised but the high quality of the video transfer. I was surprised because Ong Bak, also a recent movie from Thailand, has had some mediocre outings on DVD. Except for a few instances of heavy grain during indoors scenes, the picture boasts sharp detail and strong colors. I didn’t really see any print defects. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image was probably created progressively.

Audio:
While running Miramax and Dimension at Disney, the Weinsteins gained a reputation for butchering their acquisitions from Asia. They re-titled, re-cut, re-dubbed, and re-mixed just about everything that they touched. However, they are doing justice to their new releases under the Dragon Dynasty banner. Born to Fight arrives on American shores with its original Dolby Digital 5.1 Thai track. The audio is a boisterous affair, with music and sound effects springing from every corner. The dialogue is sometimes buried by the busy mix, though to be honest, dialogue is practically useless in a movie like this one. The movie ends with the explosion of an entire village, so you can imagine what your subwoofer will do to your windows.

You can watch the movie with a DD 5.1 English dub or with a DTS 5.1 Thai track. Optional English and Spanish subtitles support the audio.

Extras:
--Disc 1--
Aside from a couple of front-loaded trailers, you also get an audio commentary by Bey Logan. Logan speaks knowledgeably about the movie and about Thai action films in general since he lived in Thailand for a while during the 1980s.

--Disc 2--
Disc 1 has four audio tracks, so Genius Products decided to put the extras on a second DVD. “The Making of an Action Epic” is a 60-minute documentary that is fairly comprehensive in covering the action choreography, though the movie itself is so light on substance and credibility that the “making of” barely held my interest. “Action!: On the Set of Born to Fight” is basically an extended trailer that highlights the actors’ athletic skills. Finally, you get both the Thai and the American trailers.

--Miscellaneous--
There is a promo insert inside the slim double-keep case. Also, again, we get a DVD with a cardboard slipcover.

 - Yunda Eddie Feng

 

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Genius Products

Region 1 - NTSC





 

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