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Chocolate (2009) not the charming (2000) Chocolat starring Johnny Depp

February 25, 2011

Chocolate (2009)

By:  John Leavengood

    Let’s start by ignoring the title.  The chick likes M&M’s.  That’s it.  That’s the whole purpose of the title.  Let’s instead call it LITTLE THAI WARRIOR CHICK BLOWS MY MIND.  Then this review will make more sense…

                Zen (Jeeje Yanin) is a special little Thai girl with special needs.  Mimicking students at a nearby Muay Thai school, she started kicking support pillars and conditioning herself like a little Tong Po (Kickboxer) in the making.  Later we find her watching Tony Jaa in The Protector.  So naturally she becomes mistress knee-and-elbow.  We discover her combat talents early in the movie when a group of hoodlums try to get rough.  I have seen VERY little fighting choreography including children that I thought was impressive.  While brief, it was GOOD.  [Okay, they’re all really adults, but they are portraying children.]

                The filming style allowed you to see that multiple techniques were filmed together and not individually filmed and then edited together for a more choppy, weak fight scene.  There is also a little Jackie Chan in there.  Some of her dodges are regular, every-day motions which happen to result in avoiding being hit, so it appears as if she wasn’t even trying to dodge the attack.

                So Zen, with mad M&M popping skills and a mean Ong Bak jump kick, realizes that her mother will remain sick in a hospital unless she can get some unsavory folks to pay back debts to her mother.  At first she was a bit unready to fight for her family.  But thank Buddha the spirit of Tony Jaa came to her in a vision so that she could kick some ass.  [This really is how the movie progresses.]

                This youngun’ fights like Jaa, utilizes improvised prop weapons like Chan, and stunts about like both.  At times the stunts are a little slow, if not forced upon us, but overall the sequences are long, nearly continuously filmed, well-choreographed and, most importantly, just plain fun to watch.  Lots of flaired corkscrews, 720’s and 540 kick-fake-kick’s.  At first I was a little annoyed at just how affected some of these goons seemed to be by a skinny little girl’s kick to the stomach or head.  But hey, she’s not kicking them through walls and the fighting seems to use no wire assistance EVER.  This combat actress will have one Hell of a future if she has a chance to tone up a bit to sharpen her acrobatics.

                The closing action sequence, which is way-awesome-long, reminded me of longer fight scenes in The Matrix: Reloaded or the opener from Jet Li’s Fist of Legend or, to beat a dead horse, a Tony Jaa movie closer.  It was inspired, exquisitely done, and had one of the most painful looking sets (for a bad guy) I’ve seen in a while.  Lots of nasty looking falls.

                The fights are quite creative, just as much as those reserved by choreographers for Jaa himself.  If you can tolerate action movies with subtitles without getting a headache then do yourself a favor and watch this movie—especially if you enjoy Tony Jaa or Zhang Ziyi movies!  If you fear that seeing a young girl (actually she’ll be 27 in a few months) generate as much kicking power as she does will upset you, stop whining and see it anyway…and LOVE IT!  Just consider this movie her interview to earn your action movie fanfare.  She hasn’t done much, but I want to see more of her.

                P. S. Beware the Thai Boy-Girl Gang and autistic kids.  You’ll find out what I mean.

MY CALL:                                              A+, for an Action Movie

WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:        Watch nothing until you’ve seen this.

IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:            The Protector, Ong Bak, Ong Bak 2, District B13, Mr. Nice Guy…

DRINKING MOVIE STATUS:           NO.  This is its own form of intoxicating!

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