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A former Boxer, Mike (Jawed El Berni), moved to Thailand to start new life when he was robbed and left with nothing until he meets Yo, a skillful Thai boxer and his beautiful and handicapped wife. The new friends soon enter an underground fight club called """"Fighting Fish in order to make the money they desperately need to survive, but in this dangerous world, losing is not an option.""
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The story: A western immigrant (Berni) and a Bangkok boxer (Kanok) band together to participate in a high-stakes underground fighting circuit.
The film builds up both of its leading men as well-rounded performers, but they don't stand very tall because there's not much to bolster them with. To be fair, Jak and Jawed are outstanding physical specimens and decent actors given the language difficulties, but while you may have seen the latter in movies before, this film is how they're introducing themselves to the world, and they don't make the most lasting impression. Performers this green tend to benefit from having a bit of star power around them, but unless you consider David Ismalone (Ong-Bak) a star, they're alone by themselves in a sea of unfamiliar, unmemorable faces. The movie features plenty of fighting but lacks punch: a genuine attempt is made at drama, but it's difficult to forge an emotional connection with anybody in here, and even most of the action lacks gravitas - it's just fighting for the sake of it.
With that said, the action is relatively cool as a pure spectacle, and luckily, the filmmakers build the bulk of the vehicle on the martial efforts of the fighters. There are about 14 brawls, and most of them are fun in a general way. There's definitely too much slow motion, though it's mostly segregated to only about half of the bouts. With the exception of Mr. Ismalone and Patrick Tang (Dragonwolf) - the latter of which engages in the best singles match of the bunch - the onscreen combatants are virtual nobodies, but many of which have some entertaining moves to show. Jawed in particular stands out, and he's clearly trying to live up to his modern peers, but his onscreen buddy also demonstrates some serious stamina during the final fight - a long and intricate brawl comprised of only a handful of lengthy shots.
The only thing about this one that truly irritates me is the foolishness of the leads: Jawed's character makes some of the worst financial decisions a new immigrant can, and Jak's role sees him putting the lives of three people - including himself - at risk just so he can appear mysterious and dramatic. It's also a little disappointing that director Ismalone doesn't necessarily direct the movie any differently than a male counterpart would (e.g. the only substantial female character remains a passive object), but I have hopes that she'll improve her cumulative formula in time. "Brawl" is largely worth it for viewers who just can't get enough fight scenes, but most of us can consider this a rental.