Vengeance of an Assassin Blu-ray ReviewMay 12, 2015
Vengeance of an Assassin (from famed action choreographer/ director Panna Rittikrai) is about, as one might surmise from the title, a hired killer who is out for revenge. That’s pretty much the only coherent story detail in this film’s horribly, needlessly convoluted plot. Seriously, I tried my damnedest to follow the revenge tale of Thee (Dan Chupong), but I soon realized that the incredibly thin plot simply serves as an excuse for Thee to viciously beat as many humans as possible in the film’s many awesome fight sequences. Which is fine — if you fast forward the dialogue scenes and skip straight to the action, you’ll probably enjoy Vengeance of an Assassin a whole lot more. No one would hold it against you.
Director/ choreographer Panna Rittikrai passed away shortly before the completion of Vengeance of an Assassin, which might explain the weirdly incoherent story. But if you’ve seen any of the films that Rittikrai produced featuring his protege Tony Jaa, such as Ong Bak or The Protector, you know that his action sequences are worth the price of admission alone. While the characters and their motivations are staggeringly unclear throughout the proceedings, and the plot mostly serves as thin connective tissue to thread the setpieces together, there are some truly memorable and badass fight scenes on display here. A fight sequence in a garage, as well as a train battle where Thee takes out numerous opponents with a chicken wing (really) are pretty ingrained in my brain. The opening dream sequence, where Thee and a bunch of other guys fight to the death over a soccer ball (really) is also very cool, as weird and out of place as it was. But then again, nothing is really in place in Vengeance of an Assassin. It’s all just kind of there.
From what I could gather from the murky plot, main protagonist Thee and his brother Than are orphans, with their loving but alcoholic uncle having taken the two in after their parents’ murder long ago. Once Thee discovers the truth behind what happened to their mother and father (as well as the fact that they were assassins), he takes up the family mantle of death-dealing karate machine and doles out justice across the land in many brutal, bloody, cringe-inducing, well-choreographed battles. One of his first targets as an assassin is a beautiful young woman named Ploy, but Thee decides instead to run away with her, setting up a sequence of explosive events (literally – just check out that train sequence). It’s unclear exactly when in production Rittikrai passed away, but certain elements of the film feel rushed or unfinished, such as some less-than-stellar CGI elements and the overuse of green screen in some areas. The practical effects fare much better and probably would have made up the bulk of the film had Rittikrai survived to see the production through to the end.
If you were hoping that, being Rittikrai’s last film, Vengeance of an Assassin would include some extensive behind the scenes footage, a tribute, or anything along those lines, you’re in for some extreme disappointment. This Blu-ray contains nothing more than the trailer.
It’s hard to straight-up recommend a film as inconsistent and incomprehensible as Vengeance of an Assassin, but it’s definitely worth a watch just for its incredible, heart-pumping action sequences. While most of the acting walks the line between passable and terrible (aside from the girl who plays Ploy), the fight scenes almost make you forget all of the film’s problems. Come to think of it, I kind of wish one of the special features was a supercut of all the fight scenes without all the lame filler in between. Panna Rittikrai’s final film lives up to his legacy, at least where the fight choreography is concerned, and let’s be honest – that’s what he was known for.