The seven-foot Australian powerhouse Nathan Jones made such a huge impact in TOM YUM GOONG (2005) that the action team behind that film made this tilm just for him.

Barney Emerald (Jones) is a giant man who was robbed upon his arrival in Thailand. Stuck in the city of Pattaya, he has nowhere to go. However, by chance, he meets two teen sisters, Katen (Grace Nawarat) and Dokya (Sasisa Jindamanee). Barney may be a big man, but he is actually a gentle man who actually cannot fight. Finding refuge in a temple, Barney helps the local monks and tends to himself.

One day, Katen and Dokya invite Barney to their adopted mother’s food stall. When Barney tries the spicy dish “somtum”, Barney finds himself changing into a red-skinned unstoppable beast. Having accidentally destroying the food stall, Barney offers to help raise money to build it back up. Dokya, who is a kickboxing champion, offers to teach Barney the sport of Muay Thai.

However, the lives of the new friends are about to change. When gangsters from abroad come to Thailand to make an important drug deal, they lose the key to the all-important briefcase, a diamond drop. However, Dokya is revealed to have the “key” and is kidnapped by the gangsters and their business partners, who run an underground fight club made of wrestlers. Will Barney finally have the courage to stand up and fight to help his new friends?

The producers of ONG-BAK (2003) and TOM YUM GOONG (2005) came up with this film as a starring vehicle for Aussie powerhouse Nathan Jones. Jones is a seven-foot giant who has had stints in professional wrestling and even at one point, kickboxing. Many will remember him as a blond-haired member of the Russian mob in POLICE STORY 4: FIRST STRIKE (1997) prior to his breakout role in TOM YUM GOONG. Jones is given the chance here to not only show his brawn, but bring emotion in the role of Barney, a “fish out of water” in Thailand. The only problem here is that it seems that despite his top billing, Jones really doesn’t have the chance to do much until the finale. However, he does get a chance to prove he can provide some comic relief as a foil for the two teen Thai stars Grace Nawarat and Sasisa Jindamanee.

Jindamanee, a junior Thai kickboxing champion, got her start in BORN TO FIGHT (2004) for Thai stunt master Panna Rittikrai. After starring in the ensemble POWER KIDS (2008), Jindamanee provides loads of action in her role of kick boxer Dokya. Training with Panna’s team truly has its rewards as Jindamanee shows some great skills. Meanwhile, Grace Nawarat has a non-action role as troubled sister Katen, who takes a liking to our gentle giant. In fact, she speaks better English than her sister and it is the language that also helps bring them together.

While the film has some excellent cameo appearances from BORN TO FIGHT stars Dan Chupong (as a tough as nails cop) and Kessarin Ektawatakul (as a stall owner), the action truly belongs to both Jindamanee and Jones. Jones’ beast rage after trying “somtum” turns him into a hybrid of THE HULK and POPEYE and he takes on three professional wrestlers before a literally breaking fight against fellow seven-foot tall Aussie powerhouse Conan Stevens.

SOMTUM is a pretty fun film from the team behind ONG BAK. Nathan Jones has the chance to combine his brute strength with gentle acting skills as a big softie turned beast when he has “somtum”. Plus, teen kickboxing sensation Sasisa Jindamanee continues to impress with her action skills. The film is also known as MUAY THAI GIANT and is worth a rental.

  • John Firth

    Jones also had a spell as Australia’s most wanted man and had his arm broken in the World’s Strongest Man semi-finals too. Colourful doesn’t do him justice…