Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bangkok Cinema Scene: Movies opening June 17-23, 2010

The A-Team

I have dim memories of watching The A-Team on TV back the 1980s. Don't remember much about it except for the Mohawked, gold-chain-wearing Mr. T and "I pity the fool ..."

Anyway, The A-Team are back, now on the big screen. They are still a group of four soldiers, sent to prison for a crime they didn't commit. Instead of Vietnam, now they have been fighting in Iraq.

Liam Neeson takes the late George Peppard's role as Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, the cigar-chomping leader of the group. Bradley Cooper is in the Dirk Benedict role as the wisecracking Face, the charismatic ladies man. "Howling Mad" Murdock is the pilot of the group. He was played by Dwight Schultz on TV but is now portrayed by Sharlto Copley, the talented actor from South Africa who rose to fame starring in last year's District 9. And though I think Mr. T is irreplaceable, they have cast multiple-martial-arts star Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who shaves a Mohawk onto his scalp and gives it go as B.A. Baracus.

The trailer is a blast. They parachute out of a plane in a tank, and actually shoot down another plane while they're in the air.

Joe Carnanhan, the filmmaker who rose to prominence with the indie crime thriller Narc and also helmed the cult-hit Smokin' Aces, directs.

Critical reception is pretty evenly split, with the consensus being that this "big-screen version ... captures the superficial, noisy spirit of the TV series".

Be sure to stick around through the ending credits for a humorous sequence involving Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schultz.

Mr. T thinks the rated PG-13 movie is too violent. The Thai censors think so too, and gave it an advisory rating of 18+.

Also opening

Bitter/Sweet (ข้ามฟ้า หาสูตรรัก, Kam Fah Ha Sut Rak) – This awkward Hollywood-Thai romance has been touring the festival circuit for the past year or so and has even won a few awards. It stars Kip Pardue as an American coffee buyer looking for beans in Krabi. He meets a feisty Thai woman, played by Mamee Nakprasit, and falls in love, even though she hates him at first sight. James Brolin is the boss of coffee company who actually has an ulterior motive for sending Pardue to Krabi. The cast includes Akara Amarttayakul as a Muay Thai boxer who's in for a big surprise. There's also Spencer Garrett as a drunken Austrian expat – a comic-relief wingman for Pardue's character – and Kalorin Supaluck Neemayothin as the drunk's long-suffering girlfriend. Pakkaramia Potranan is Mamee's younger sister, who's the boxer's girlfriend. Veteran actors Viyada Umarin and Sompob Benjathikul are the mom-and-pop coffee farmers. And Singer Tata Young makes a an appearance so brief, it's hardly worth mentioning. The movie opened with a star-studded premiere at last week's Phuket Film Festival. The trailer is at YouTube. Rated 13+.

Takien: The Haunted Tree (นางตะเคียน, Nang Takien) – Haunted-tree dramas are an enduring tradition in Thai cinema. This latest one is produced by Pacific Island Film, makers of last year's moralistic teenage-drugs drama Samchuk. So it's sure to contain a message in its story of a troubled young woman (Jiranun Manochaem) who commits suicide by hanging herself in a takien tree and haunting the local village. Rated 18+.

StreetDance 3D – A London streetdance crew goes begging for rehearsal space and strikes a deal with a ballet troupe. In 3D. Rated 13+.

The Message – Cloak-and-dagger thrills in Japanese-occupied China during World War II. The Japanese try to smoke out a Chinese mole by sending a fake message. Directed by Chen Kuo-fu and Gao Qunshu, this Chinese thriller has had some decent reviews. At the Lido.

Raajneeti – Naseeruddin Shah, Arjun Rampal, Nana Patekar, Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Ajay Devgn and Manoj Bajpai star in this sprawling multi-character Bollywood political drama. It's thought to be loosely based on the Congress Party dynasty headed by Sonia Gandhi. Critical reception is mostly positive. It's playing at Major Cineplex Rama III on Saturday at 7.30 and on Sunday at 4. Call (089) 488 2620 or visit

Take note

House on RCA is not showing movies this week. It's holding the annual auditions for the Academy Fantasia reality-TV show.

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