Acclaimed action director and choreographer Panna Rittikrai passed away on July 20, 2014 at age 53 and was best known for his work as a stunt coordinator on Ong-Bak and other movies starring his protege Tony Jaa.
But Panna was also a fine director in his own right, and his last film was Vengeance of the Assassin (Rew Talu Rew, เร็วทะลุเร็ว), which was actually completed a year or two ago and for some reason kept hidden away in the vaults at Sahamongkol Film International. Until now.
The story reunites Panna with two of his other discoveries besides Tony Jaa – actor "Diew" Chupong Changprung and actress "Nui" Kessarin Ektawatkul – action stars who made their debut in 2004 with Panna's big-studio directorial comeback Born to Fight, an insanely fun flick involving a bunch of national athletes battling a Burmese drug lord in a remote border village.
In Rew Talu Rew, Diew Chupong is a vengeance-seeking young man who gets involved with a group of professional assassins. He saves the life of a young woman he may have been hired to kill, and is then framed for kidnapping. He's then forced to work with his estranged brother (Nantawut Boonrabsab) to find who is out to get him.
An English-subtitled trailer offers a glimpse at Panna's flashy martial-arts moves and trademark dangerous stunts – guys are falling from a train and getting painfully banged around. If you're into action movies and martial arts, it's one not to be missed. Rated 18+
The Hundred-Foot Journey – After a week of sneak previews, this cloying bit of harmless fluff from director Lasse Hallstrom and producers Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey moves to a wider release. Helen Mirren stars as a snooty Frenchwoman who runs a Michelin-starred traditional French restaurant in a French village. The refined air is shaken up by the arrival of an Indian family, whose patriarch (Om Puri) opens an Indian curry palace right across the road from Madame Mallory's place. While those two lock horns, the Indian restaurant's talented young chef (Manish Dayal) finds himself attracted to the lady sous chef (Charlotte Le Bon ) at the rival eatery. Critical reception is mixed. Rated G
Before I Go to Sleep – Nicole Kidman is going crazy! She wakes up every day with no memory as the result of a traumatic accident. But terrifying truths begin to emerge that make her question everything she thinks she knows about her life. Colin Firth and Mark Strong also star. Rowan Joffe (Brighton Rock) directs. Critical reception is mixed. Rated 15+
Ouija – Yet another board game makes the leap to the big screen. In Ouija, which like Battleship, G.I. Joe and Transformers, is based on a Hasbro product, friends use the spirit board to search for clues into the death of one of their own, who died while playing the game alone. Don't do that. Critical reception is overwhelmingly poor. Rated 15+
The Pact II – A young woman (Camilla Luddington) plagued by nightmares is given some unsettling news by a FBI special agent (Patrick Fischler) – there's a copycat of these deceased Judas Killer and she's his next target. Critical reception is generally poor. Rated 15+
Kill Dil – A loose rip-off in the name and style of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, this Bollywood action-comedy-romance has two roaming killers (Ranveer Singh and Ali Zafar) coming into conflict over a free-spirited young woman (Parineeti Chopa). It's in Hindi with English and Thai subtitles at Major Cineplex Sukhumvit, Rama III and Pattaya.
25 Years of Freedom: The Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Transformation of Central Europe – The embassy of Germany, with cooperation from Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, is mounting an exhibition and film series at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, marking a quarter century since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Opening yesterday – 25 years to the day that the first openings in the wall appeared – the exhibition runs until November 23. The film schedule got underway yesterday with the comedy Good Bye, Lenin! Apologies. I didn't hear about this event until now. Tonight, it's the Oscar-winning thriller The Lives of Others, about a East German secret police officer who is conflicted about his work at a covert listening post. Tomorrow is the 1964 East German classic, Divided Heaven, about a couple struggling to stay together as the wall comes up. The shows are at 6pm and are in German with English subtitles. Entry is free.
The Friese-Greene Club – Tonight, a fall down some stairs sends a travel writer n a different direction. It's The Accidental Tourist, starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis, part of a monthlong look at the films of Lawrence Kasdan. Halloween continues on Fridays this month with the king of the creepy-kid movies, 1976's Satanic-possession tale The Omen. Saturday, it's one of Johnny Depp's finest performances. He's gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in Terry Gilliam's wonderfully demented Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas. And on Sunday it's more black-and-white horror classics with 1931's Frankenstein. Next Wednesday, it's "animation for adults" with Waltz With Bashir, which covers the 1982 Lebanon War in epic style and is perhaps the only animated feature documentary ever made. Shows are at 8pm. The FGC is down an alley next to the Queen's Park Imperial Hotel on Sukhumvit Soi 22. There's just nine seats, so book them. Also, check the Facebook page for updates and program changes.
Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand – The 2014 edition of the FCCT's Contemporary World Film Series comes to a close with one of last year's most-acclaimed Thai films, Tang Wong (ตั้งวง), a teen coming-of-age drama and social satire. Directed by Kongdej Jaturanrasmee (whose So Be It was recently in cinemas), the story centers on four boys living in a Bangkok housing block who each make a vow to a spirit-house shrine in hopes of achieving success in their various endeavors. To honor the vow, they must learn a traditional Thai dance, which none of them knows much about. So they hire a neighbor, a transgender dancer at the Erawan shrine, to teach them. Much acclaimed at festival appearances worldwide, Tang Wong swept up most of Thailand's major film awards this year. The screening is at 7pm on Monday, November 17 at the FCCT. Producer Soros Sukhum will be present to talk about the film and answer questions. Admission for non-members is 150 baht plus 100 baht more for anyone wanting to drink Thai wine.
ExpatZ – A short film made in Thailand that has been winning awards at fests worldwide makes its Bangkok premiere next week at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. Directed by Jimmie Wing, ExpatZ is a psychedelic horror-comedy mash-up set in the totally fictional country of Wighland. There, a foreign TV journalist encounters all sorts of colorful characters as he tracks down a rogue retired American military officer. It recently picked up the grand prize for best short film at the Urban Nomad Film Festival in Taiwan, which praised the film for its "humorous and visually alluring style." The screening is set for Wednesday, November 19, at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand. The event starts at 6pm with hamburgers, followed by the film at 7pm. Wing will talk and answer questions later, along with co-leads Soontorn Meesri and Lex Luther. Kamonrat Ladseeta, who plays Madame Quoits, the wife of Commander Quoits (Darren Potter), will also field questions.
Alliance Française – France during World War I has been the theme of this month's screenings. Next week's movie is the 1962 classic Jules et Jim, François Truffaut's tragic romance about the love triangle between Bohemian friends – Frenchman Jim (Henri Serre), shy Austrian Jules (Oskar Werner) and Jules' girlfriend and later wife Catherine (Jeanne Moreau). It's in French with English subtitles at 7pm on Wednesday, November 19.