Force of Five on DVD

Sunday, 04 July 2010 13:35

“Force of Five” concerns the dazzling exploits of four very young and fearless Thai boxing students who come to the aid of their friend Wun, who has chronic heart disease. As the end nears, a donor heart is located but tragically the hospital in charge comes under siege from a group of ruthless terrorists. Wuth, Catt, Jib and Pong must breach the terrorists’ perimeter, locate the heart and get it back to Wun in time for his operation.

Krissanapong Rachata’s movie comes from the same stable as “Ong Bak”, “Chocolate” and “Raging Phoenix” which means that, despite it featuring a much younger cast than those adult hits, it still features thrilling acrobatics, spine-crunching combat and boundless energy. Like “Home Alone”, though, the movie has a more family-oriented flavour and there are plenty of pratfalls, high jinks and light comedic touches.

Force of Five on DVDThe young cast equip themselves admirably and apparently trained for almost two years to get in shape for the impressive action sequences. If you can imagine a kung fu version of “The Famous Five”, you will not be far off the mark. Whilst the humour and sentiment are occasionally layered on a bit thickly, the daring foursome is charismatic and impossible to dislike.

Sadly, the movie comes apart a bit due to the glaring clash between the kiddy-friendly antics and the brutal military flashbacks and terrorists’ uncompromising activities. The film opens with shots of gritty jungle warfare and a blood-drenched river, and the terrorists are motivated by some ill-defined feelings of injustice as a result of being caught in the middle of the conflict.

What follows is light-hearted tomfoolery between the kids and an exciting radio-controlled car race. The movie then returns to the terrorists as they gun down waves of guards in cold blood at the hospital.

This jarring, Jekyll and Hyde switching between the two halves of the same film makes it difficult to watch, because the audience are constantly having to adjust their mindset to either that of a 10-year-old or an adult. Unsurprisingly, the film has been released with a “15” certificate in the UK, which is entirely appropriate to the “Die Hard in a Hospital” theme, but masks the fact that much of the movie is aimed at a “PG” audience.

It is a shame the producers could not have found a more suitable opposition for the kids to tackle, to keep the movie’s certificate down to what I assume is the target level.

On the plus side, those that are old enough to watch the film will find a fair amount to entertain them. The mini-Tony Jaas rarely irritate and their tag-team fighting amuses and thrills in equal measure. One stand-out scene features a towering, American drunk (Richard William Lord in über-ham mode) who tries to bully his way past them, only to find himself on the receiving end of a blistering and wince-inducing sequence of flying kicks, punches and flung props.

The terrorist’s leader, played with relish by Johnny Nguyen (“Warrior King”, “Cradle 2 the Grave”) naturally comes under similar fire later on, and whenever the kids are seemingly trapped in tight spaces you can guarantee they will make athletic use of their skills to get the upper hand.

Both retail formats of the movie come with a few brief extras including an interview gallery, a making-of featurette, some behind the scenes clips and a trailer. When combined with the main feature it is still quite a slight package, but equally one that does not outstay its welcome.

“Force of Five” (2009) is out now on DVD (version reviewed) and Blu-ray, courtesy of Cine Asia. The running time of the main feature is 75 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’. The DVD retails for £17.99 and the Blu-ray disc is £24.99 or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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