Thailand, 2008, 90 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Action/Adventure, Asian, Martial Arts
Language: Thai, Japanese, English English Sub-Titles

No stunt doubles! No wires! All action! Such are the gifts the recent wave of Thai action films lavishes on martial arts cinephiles everywhere, in the form of a no-holds-barred style of fighting that often involves actual contact between the kicking, punching leads and their unlucky supporting cast. Director Prachya Pinkaew started the trend in 2003 with Ong Bak, which starred the furious fists of actor-fighter Tony Jaa; now he returns with a female protégée, twenty-four-year-old Jija Yanin Vismitananda—whom he groomed for five years to deliver the ass-whuppin’ gymnastics featured in Chocolate.

As is the case with the best Asian action films, Chocolate’s plot is secondary (if not tertiary) to the combat. But if you really must know: Vismitananda plays Zen, an autistic young woman whose savantism—and lightning-quick reflexes—allow her to acquire random skills, down to the slightest nuance, just by observation. When Zen discovers that a crime syndicate to which her loving but destitute and cancer-stricken mother used to belong owes them thousands of dollars (enough to cover medical treatment), she endures an all-night movie marathon of Tony Jaa and Bruce Lee flicks—and emerges an ace practicioner of mixed martial arts, ready to reclaim her mother’s money and honor.

And that’s where the fun really begins. The spry Jija executes feats that you simply must see to believe. Bouncing off walls and people, she thoroughly cleans the clocks of her adversaries with the charm and effervescence of the girl next door—which makes the closing reel of outtakes, filled with the accidents and injuries that occurred on set, all the more wince-inducing. Then again, you can’t make a perfect action omelet without breaking a few legs.

DIRECTOR: Prachya Pinkaew
Producer: Prachya Pinkaew, (executive) Somsak Techaratanaprasert
Editor: Rashane Limtrakul, Pop Surasakuwat
Screenwriter: Chukiat Sakveerakul, Nepalee Sakweerakul
Cinematographer: Decha Srimantra
Principal Cast: Jija Yanin Vismitananda, Ammara Siripong, Hiroshi Abe, Pongpat Wachirabunjong
US Distributor: Magnet Releasing

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