Even if you were wowed by Prachya Pinkaew's Thai martial arts films, Ong-bak and The Protector, nothing will prepare you for the jaw-dropping awesomeness of Chocolate (2009). The last time I was blown away by a martial arts movie was when I saw Kill Bill: Vol. 1 in 2003, and before that it was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000. (It's truly something to sit in an audience full of people so amazed by what they're seeing that they're watching in stunned silence.)
Our heroine, played by the super-talented Jeeja Yanin, is an autistic girl (seriously!) whose nimbleness and agility is matched only by her ability to instantly pick up martial arts moves by watching them on TV and she practices by playing video games. And to say that she kicks some serious ass during the course of the film would be a gross understatement.
When you watch Chocolate's delirious action sequences, which get more absurdly elaborate and delightful as it goes along, you are first confused by how they pull off such dangerous-looking stunts. Then, when you realize that there are no wires or special effects or stunt doubles, you get the sinking feeling that in Thailand they don't care about such petty American notions as "rules" and "safety" and "insurance." By the time the end credits roll around and you see outtakes of actors writhing around in real pain and bleeding from real injuries, your suspicions are confirmed. I like it when people hurt themselves to keep me entertained. Here's the trailer:
Chocolate, which will eventually find its way onto my list of favorite films this year, is now out on DVD. Get it!