Muay Thai Warrior (2010) [Blu-Ray]
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Betrayed and left for dead by treacherous Japanese forces, young samurai Yamada Nagamasa (Seigi Ozeki) is rescued to a remote village in Siam and nursed back to health among the acolytes in the monastery. Working tirelessly to master the art of Muay Boran (Thai boxing), fearless and brutal Yamada is selected to become a royal bodyguard to King Naresuan The Great. His greatest challenge comes on the day he s forced to fight back against the elite Japanese warriors who left him behind. Based on actual events from the 17th century's Ayutthaya period, YAMADA: WAY OF THE SAMURAI combines lush visuals with a cast of Olympic athletes to provide viewers some of the most stunning and realistic Muay Thai techniques ever filmed for the big screen.
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The film "Muay Thai Warrior" was created to celebrate 124 years of Japan and Thailand relations and now the film will be released by Well Go USA on Blu-ray and DVD in March 2013. The film would feature Japanese actor Seigi Ozeki ("The Odd Couple"), Sorapong Chatree ("Ong Bak 2 and 3″, "Beautiful Boxer"), Winai Kraibutr ("Bangkok Revenge", "Bang Rajan") and K1 fighter Buakhao Paw Pramuk.
"Muay Thai Warrior" takes place in the 17th century and a time when Thailand had a small Japanese community, many who were ronin (samurai warriors with no lord to serve) hired by the Ayothaya as soldiers (because Ayutthaya was being invaded by other foreign invaders) and that foreign trade was popular between Thailand and Japan. Among those working for King Ayothaya is a young soldier named Nagamasa Yamada (portrayed by Seigi Ozeki).
"Muay Thai Warrior" is presented in 1080p High Definition. Picture quality for the most part is good as the areas of Siam are shown as a colorful area. Beautiful scenic areas but on the otherside of this film is showcasing the brutality. From people getting stabbed by swords and also showing blood flying everywhere, even towards the lens of the camera. But for a martial arts film, picture quality for the most part is good. Closeups are full of detail and black levels are nice and deep. I did notice some areas where there was aliasing and artifacts. But probably for one scene where things looked a bit messy. But for the majority of the film, "Muay Thai Warrior" looked very good on Blu-ray.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
"Muay Thai Warrior" is presented in Thai and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Dialogue and musical score are crystal clear. I didn't notice a lot of use of the surround channels during my viewing but for moreso for ambiance.
Subtitles are in English.
"Muay Thai Warrior" come with a theatrical trailer.
"Muay Thai Warrior" comes with a slipcover.
When it comes to martial arts films such as "Muay Thai Warrior", those who enjoy films such as the "Ong Bak" will love the martial arts in the film. The action sequences are pretty cool to watch and the fighting choreography was definitely impressive.
But when it comes to the actually story, it all comes down to the viewer. For one, Nagamasa Yamada is a historical figure in Siam (Thailand) history. Known for his trade activities, what we do know that in the kingdom of Ayuttthaya, around 1,500 Japanese lived in a community known as "Ban Yipun". We know that many Japanese who converted to Christianity and also ronin samurai fled to Siam to avoid persecution from Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was also known that the Thai King respected the Japanese colony because of their military expertise. And Nagamasa Yamada became the head of the Japanese colony. From the time he was in Siam to the time of his death, he was instrumental in creating trade relations between Thailand and Japan up to his death (in which he was killed in combat) in which Japan then went through a period of seclusion.
Interesting about Nagamasa Yamada is that you read the positive depictions of him in Siam but you dig a little bit more and you will also find out that he may have been a pirate in the seas who plundered Dutch Ships. Rumors continue to persist that Yamada has buried his treasure in Australia.
Fact or fiction, Nagamasa Yamada is an intriguing character that connects Japan and Thailand and to celebrate their longtime relationship, why not a joint collaboration for a film.
In the film "Muay Thai Warrior", one should not watch the film as historical fact but to watch the film as a straight-up popcorn action film full of martial arts action scenes and awesome choreography. The film does have its cute moments as Nagamasa Yamada is being tended to by a beautiful woman and her young (comical) niece.
But for those interested in the Muay Thai fighting genre will probably be interested in how the fighting is depicted in the film, especially the use of fighting and swordfighting.
In the aspect of martial arts, the fight choreography was impressive, the story was of course farfetched, but typically when it comes to Asian cinema about a historical character that involves martial arts, more often, you'll find that the films are 90-95% fiction.
But for a Thailand martial arts film, what I see in a film such as "Muay Thai Warrior" is an improvement in production and special effects. But still, the original "Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior" from 2003 still manages to be the film that other Muay Thai films will be compared to and its understandable as the first "Ong Bak" film, in my opinion, is still the best that I have seen so far.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is good, with some areas that had artifacts and aliasing issues, but the majority of the film looked very good and lossless audio was clear and subtitles were easy to read. I wish there were more special features other than the trailer.
Overall, some may feel that "Muay Thai Warrior" feels like "The Last Samurai" with Muay Thai but if you love Thai popcorn martial arts action films with cool fight choreography, "Muay Thai Warrior" is for you!
I can't say this was awesome but I definitely enjoyed it and had not heard of it before it fell into my lap. It's based on a true story but little is actually known about Yamada. Supposedly, the attacks on Ayothaya were carried out by Burmese immigrants but I recall no mention of this in the film. So the movie could've been Japan vs Burma in Siam. The story is not bad and definitely a cut above the norm for most Thai films I've seen, regardless of historical (in)accuracy. Despite being a foreigner, Yamada did indeed become a guard for the King and eventually governor of the province of Nakhon Si Thammarat. That no one in the village has a problem with the fact that he's not one of them was unexpected and extremely refreshing. Usually, in most films, an outsider has to prove himself and earn the respect of whatever local culture he finds himself immersed in. Ayothaya seems to be a kind of monastic village where peace & tolerance are emphasized. Of course, the message of harmony is somewhat contradicted by the village's preemptive strike of bloody violence, which reminded me of "Billy Jack" (1971), except instead of hippies, there are male fighters, all with muscular physiques, short pants, Rollie Fingers-like mustaches, and pompadour haircuts.
The fights are simultaneously disappointing and cool. There's really no fault with the actual choreography but goofy camera tricks (like undercranking and that annoying "wavy" look) and ridiculous amounts of CGI blood mar what might have been fantastic scenes of native martial arts. I have seen at least half-a-dozen films that highlighted Muay Thai but I've never seen moves quite like this. These dudes almost adopt a semi-standing/semi-fetal position before sudden bursts of fists, feet, knees, and elbows come flying in from every which way. The fights are still interesting and well performed, except for Seigi Ozeki, who is otherwise fine, but appears noticeably slower than his Thai co-stars.
The unrated DVD from Epic/Mamagaap has good widescreen (16.9) picture quality with 5.1 surround and a running time of 102 minutes. Spoken language is Thai/Japanese with subtitles only available in English. I recommend this but with reservations. At the very least, King Naresuan is the coolest monarch seen on film since Ernie Reyes, Jr. in 1993's "Surf Ninjas". 3.5 out of 5.
2010. aka: The Samurai of Ayothaya