Sunday, 10 July 2011


"Panna Rittikrai is probably best known to western audiences for his work with Thai sensation Tony Jaa, and even though Bangkok Knockout doesn’t exactly break new ground, it does manage to bust a few heads along the way. Knockout focuses on a stunt team called ‘Fight Club’, a family of fighters who think they’ve hit the big time when a pompous Hollywood producer called Mr Snead (Speedy Arnold) tells them they’re moving to Hollywood.

What they’ve actually done is signed their lives away to a Running Man style contest, forced to evade death in a multi-level abandoned building built out of Lego bricks. Actually - scratch that - Lego bricks are more expensive. Mr Snead and a group of really bad actors from around the world watch via CCTV, betting on the showdowns as they take place. Love, honour and friendship are beaten aside by torrents of stunt work, fight sequences and corny dialogue.

Most of the cast members are real-life stuntmen, so you’ll do well to ignore the lack of genuine acting talent. Besides, it’s the non-stuntmen that fare worst, Speedy Arnold being the pick of a really bad bunch - his ill-conceived performance calls for a really big box of matches. The plot is minimal, the budget miniscule, and Bangkok Knockout fails to deliver anything approaching credible filmmaking. It’s a one trick pony from start to finish, but Panna Rittikrai knows action, and this is where things start to get interesting.

People dodge sledgehammers, get hit by cars, fall from tremendous heights, get hit by road signs, kick the living daylights out of one another, get hit by motorcycles - they mostly get hit by things, but boy is it exhilarating stuff. The action sequences are the only thing that save Bangkok Knockout from throwing in the towel, but even then, it never quite feels like enough. Had Rittikrai spent half as much time on funding, storytelling and acting lessons, as he has on choreography - we would’ve been talking about the next Ong Bak. As it stands, without the mentally deranged fight sequences, Bangkok Knockout hits the canvas faster than a British tourist on a stag weekend."

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