Thai stunt legend Panna Rittikrai has done wonders with the likes of Tony Jaa, Jeeja Yanin, and Dan Chupong. His latest film is similar to the rest, a combination of a simplistic storyline with exciting fast-paced action. This time, Rittikrai may have found the next generation of Thai action stars.
The Fight Club are a group of fighters well versed in various forms of martial arts, from Muay Thai to Tae Kwon Do to Capoeira. They have competed in a tournament in which the winners will be brought to Hollywood to work on action films. When they win, they are given a celebratory dinner by the tournament sponsors, Dr. Duchanon (Kazu Patrick Tang) and Mr. Sneed (Speedy Arnold). However, the dream is about to become a living nightmare.
The next morning, team leader Pod (Chatchapol Kulsiniwootichai) learns that his team have been drugged and are now in an abandoned warehouse. Things get worse when they learn that the contest was a big set up. The Fight Club are now part of a deadly game where they must use their skills to save each other from a series of assassins and martial artists. Mr. Sneed is the mastermind behind it all, as he invites high rollers to place bets on who will live and who will die. With no other choice, the Fight Club must do whatever it takes to survive in their most dangerous game yet.
The 2003 film ONG-BAK put action star and his mentor, longtime Thai stunt coordinator and B-movie action star Panna Rittikrai on the map of global action cinema. Rittikrai would also make good use of action stars Dan Chupong (BORN TO FIGHT), Jeeja Yanin (CHOCOLATE), and French-born Chinese martial artist Kazu Patrick Tang (RAGING PHOENIX). With this recent action film, Rittikrai hopes to begin a new generation of action heroes and he may have just done that.
Rittikrai came up with the story of the film and the screenplay was written by Dojit Hongthong and Jonathan Siminoe. Hongthong and Siminoe took Rittikrai’s simplistic plot of a fight team forced into death matches. However, come just after a hour, a twist is revealed that may shock viewers and thus leads into one of the most insane fight scenes, an all-out rumble between Fight Club and the villains.
In his 2004 version of BORN TO FIGHT, Rittikrai used martial artists and athletes to make up the heroic cast. Here, he made sure he used a cast that are experts in different forms of martial arts. The standouts here are Tae Kwon Do expert Chatchapol Kulsiniwootichai, Sambo expert Sumret Muangput, Tai Chi expert Poonyapat Boonkunchanok, and Freerunner Puchong Sartnok. These four truly excel in their fight scenes that have the real contact seen in other Rittikrai films. Like Jaa, Yanin, and Chupong, they take the hits all in the name of entertainment.
While the fight scenes are mainly exciting and make good use of the newcomers, the film sadly wastes veterans Kazu Patrick Tang and Panna Rittikrai, who play two of Mr. Sneed’s henchmen who are responsible for hiring the fighters who take on the heroic Fight Club. Rittikrai plays an asthmatic former champion who feels he can singlehandedly take on the Fight Club and only shows about five minutes of action himself. Meanwhile, Tang, an excellent martial artist who strutted his stuff in France’s short film HK and unleashed his stuff with RAGING PHOENIX, is sadly wasted and resorts to showing what he can do in the danger zone when he has an action scene with Kulsiniwootichai under an 18-wheeler.
While the newcomer cast impresses in the action department, BANGKOK KNOCKOUT would have been even better had Rittikrai utilized not only his own talents, but that of Kazu Patrick Tang as well. However, there are some intricate twists in the plot that lead up to one of the most insane climaxes in Thailand’s action cinema.
Bangkok Knockout (2010) • Kazu Patrick Tang • Panna Rittikrai