Ignoring the silly title for a moment, Sons Of The Wind: Bangkok Ninjas combines the exhilarating sport of free running with mixed martial arts. It’s a parkour themed affair in the style of District 13, which reunites Les Groupe Yamakasi for ninety minutes of adrenaline-fuelled action. Julien Seri - who also worked on the original - takes the helm for this latest offering from Manga Entertainment.
Sons Of The Wind is a globetrotting action-adventure that takes our heroes from the rooftops of London to Paris and Bangkok. Originally released in 2004, the movie is a companion piece of sorts to the 2001 hit Yamakasi – Les Samouraïs des Temps Modernes. Being an action movie from the producers of The Transporter, it won’t take long to figure out where this one is going. That’ll be up the sides of walls, down the sides of buildings and somewhere over the rainbow.
The first act offers brief moments of promise. The opening set piece is appealing enough, and the parkour themed rooftop game threatens to entertain in a way you can only imagine. Julien Seri equips himself well enough behind the camera, or at least he does when he’s not shooting action. The scene that depicts the gang moving to Bangkok is a particularly nice touch; in fact Seri does well to keep the visual style fresh throughout.
Leo (Laurent Piemontesi) has decided to open a gym for under privileged kids and the rest of the gang join him, not because they have a genuine reason to do so, purely because the script demands that they be there. Things take a turn for the worse when they find themselves in the middle of a turf war between the triads and the yakuza. One of the gang falls for leading lady Tsu (Elodie Yung) and it’s easy to see why, not only is she beautiful but she kicks a little ass as well. They don’t realise at the time, but Tsu has been working with her brother Kien (Châu Belle Dinh) for the yakuza. Kien will do whatever it takes to be recognized as a yakuza member, which means there’s a very high probability that things are going to get messy.
Lets cut to the chase so to speak; the success and failure of films like Bangkok Ninjas depends heavily on the quality of the action showpieces. Julien Seri drops the ball big time. What we have here is an incredibly talented group of performers, which should in theory make Julien Seri’s job as director a walk in the park(our). Seri never lets up with the editing, and every action scene is shot up close and personal. There’s very little sense of drama because of the desire to get so close to the action. All I really wanted was for the camera to shoot in wide angles so that I could embrace the fluidity and movement, but that was never going to happen. The camera is rarely more than two yards away from the action and it really hampers your enjoyment of the talent on show.
The worst crime however is the lack of action sequences. The plot plods along in predictable fashion and rarely kicks into life. The martial arts scenes are uninspiring for the most part and the huge waste of talent is there for all to see. Not only that, but there are very few ninjas. I counted only two and they make an appearance in the opening set piece.
Sons of the Wind: Bangkok Ninjas is a routine action movie, which would be acceptable had the combat lived up to expectations. Sadly for everyone involved, it never nearly threatens to entertain in the manner it should. Which leaves us with a plodding script, routine performances and a lack of creativity. Elodie Yung is easy on the eye, as is Julien Seri’s direction when he’s not ruining the action sequences, but there’s very little else to recommend about an action vehicle as flatfooted as this. The rest of the characters, much like the action itself, fail to make a genuine impact, and any early promise is lost beneath a torrent of bad direction and lazy writing.
These guys deserve better. We deserve better too. Don’t even get me started on the title... AW