|The Plot: Zen is a young girl born of a Japanese yakuza father and Thai gangster mother. The two were never meant to fall in love, and Zen’s mother was forced into a life of exile due to this. Zen’s mother leads a simple life taking care of her and her cousin, but as the years go by her mother begins to grow sick and it is revealed she has cancer and is dying. When Zen was born she was born with a learning disability that is most likely autism. Although not known at first, she turns out to be a savant and extremely athletic as well. After watching the muay thai students next door and growing up watching Kung Fu films (Ong Bak in particular) she has developed her own style of fighting which she doesn’t put to use until her cousin finds a book that lists all of the old mobsters who owe her mom money. With hospital debt skyrocketing, getting these gangsters to pay back what they owe turns out to be Zen and her cousin’s only option – and these gangsters will pay; one way or another.|
I am going to make a bold statement that most of you will not agree with, but I’m going to say it anyway… Chocolate KILLS The Protector. It doesn’t just kill it, it keeps it tied up in the basement with a rag in its mouth and is ritually dismembered. Is the action that much better? Not really, is Jaa the better martial artist? Sure. Is this film a billion times more entertaining and exciting? Why, as a matter of fact yes it is! I can’t help it! Don’t kill me, just an opinion, but a true opinion of mine for sure. Tony Jaa is a brilliant performer when it comes to his fighting prowess and athletic ability – but you’ll never get me to refer to him as the most engaging or charismatic martial arts film star on the market. When watching The Protector, I had several biases against it. First is my disapproval of Jaa’s character which didn’t seem to have that wholesome innocence of his previous film Ong Bak – which I thought was one of the main reasons his portrayal in that film actually worked. Then there was the setting which moved away from the inner city style of Thailand to the less worrysome streets of Australia. I can’t tell you the reason why it didn’t work for me, but it never did no matter how much I tried to get into. I never found myself glued to the screen with that huge grin on my face like I did when first watching Ong Bak – or like I did tonight while sitting through Chocolate. That same passion Pinkaew’s breakout film had is back, and although I will agree that any fight scene featuring Tony Jaa is going to do nothing but benefit; the fight sequences here are top notch as well. A lot of viewers go into the film expecting balls out action from the very start however and I’m going to tell you now don’t even do it. I’ve read enough complaints so far about the lack of action in the first thirty minutes which I find ridiculous. Perhaps mainstream audiences have become too spoiled by modern martial arts films, but it isn’t lik Chocolate is taking the whole genre in a new direction by establishing a strong story and defining its characters for the first thirty minutes or so. Many Kung Fu films followed a similar pattern and most of the time they were better for it. Five Deadly Venoms, if you go back and watch it, can be a pretty slow film. Same thing for much of Bruce Lee’s work which had even less spectacular choreography. Shaolin Master Killer must have an hour worth of training sequences, which is the main draw of the film, so yeah you can expect a very fleshed out bit of development in Chocolate but I promise it is never boring nor distracting. If you can allow yourself be as absorbed as I was during that introductory love story and the subsequent introduction to the daughter born from it – you are going to find probably a simply amazing martial arts film.
There’s so much to go over. The fight sequences are broken up into about five or six highly choreographed pieces. Depending on where you want to cut between one fight sequence and another, they start to really blend together there at the end as our characters fight from one set to another. Including in what starts off as a quaint oriental bar, then breaks through the wall onto a rooftop and ends in another giant forieger that looks like the House of Blue Leaves sequence in Kill Bill. That comparison seems to get made a lot, but believe me, JeeJa Yenin is much more the acrobat/performer in the action department than any of the amazing women in that particular film and even with Yuen Woo-Ping directing the choreography there Chocolate still seems the more genuine and simply spectacular in terms of the action. From the “simple” things like Yenin moving forward in a flipping motion, her doing a vertical split of sorts, or her wrapping her right leg around her opponents attacking arm and bending it into a submission hold before smacking him down, there is a lot to fawn over in this one. Another bit I loved was her jumping from the top of one shelf to another while doing a 360 degree spin-split. Although she apparently had some help through wires throughout the film, it is never obvious and I truthfully would have wondered about it if it were not for the credits which like older Jackie Chan films feature all of the dangerous outtakes – and it is apparent she is wearing a harness during at least one of the more dangerous stunts. Chocolate starts off slow with the first two fight sequences, a little slower than what is to come later featuring just a few bits of flash – however once you get to the warehouse scenes… wow! I found myself shouting obscenities that I dare not repeat here so many times while watching Chocolate and all I can do is recommend you guys get out there and see it as well.