Thursday, 24 October 2013


From the collaborative force behind Ong Bak, Raging Phoenix and Chocolate comes Power Kids (5 huajai hero), the latest Muay Thai action extravaganza from first time director Krissanapong Rachata. Lek is well versed in the art of Muay Thai, as are the five street children he treats as his own. The youngest of these kids has a heart condition, and when an incident leaves him in critical condition, it’s up to the four remaining children to save his life. The day arrives when the transplant can take place, but what do you know, an international terrorist group have taken over the hospital and there’s only four hours left to steal the heart, defeat the terrorists and save the day. Goes without saying really.

Power Kids is a curious beast because on paper it reads like a family film. Within minutes, however, assault weapons are being fired and civilians are dropping like flies. There’s a lot of swearing too, and all of this takes place in the opening stampede. Then the film slips into family movie mode and we meet our young protagonists for the first time. In much the same style as Ong Bak and Raging Phoenix, Krissanapong Rachata takes his time to set up the storyline and characters.

The premise is quite neat; not that it actually matters at the end of the day. Production values are relatively low but the characters are endearing enough. I’ve always found the majority of Thai comedy incredibly refreshing, and some of the early scenes are immensely entertaining. I just wish producers would choose better western actors. I don’t know where they found Richard William Lord, but his performance as a drunken bully would make even Hulk Hogan cringe.

The scene is set, our four heroes break into the hospital and we all know where it’s headed from here. Two of the four children display exceptional martial arts ability. The other two, not so much. In fact, one of them reminded me of Mouth from The Goonies, with his light-hearted persona adding much needed humour to the escalating drama. Sasisa Jindamanee (Born to Fight) makes one hell of an impression, usually on somebody’s forehead. The final face off - between the four children and a treacherous terrorist leader - is well worth the wait. I only wish the rest of the movie had dared to be so creative.

Power Kids is an entertaining ride, but I was hoping for a little bit more. Clocking in at just over 70 minutes, there’s definitely room for a little more chaos. Ong Bak, Raging Phoenix and Chocolate were blessed with some ingenious set pieces, but Power Kids is found wanting when it comes to creativity. Perhaps Krissanapong Rachata is to blame, he seems to lack the directorial prowess of his peers, and the early encounters aren’t nearly enticing enough. The final confrontation is extraordinary, but that in itself left me wishing the rest of the movie had been as brave.

Power Kids is not as jaw dropping as the films that came before it, which is a shame considering the raw athleticism of some of its rising stars, but it's still a welcome breath of fresh air. It’s not a family film either, not entirely, and the presence of those pesky kids will impress you at every turn. Some of these growing pains have a very bright future in the world of martial arts entertainment. Just when you thought Thai filmmakers had nothing left to offer, the Power Kids make their presence felt, and you sure wont forget them in a hurry. AW

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