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Good for a few kicks

Here?s another one for some kicks. After Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Stephen Chow and Chow Yun-Fat, say hello to Tony Jaa.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2006 02:18 IST
Vinayak Chakravorty
Vinayak Chakravorty

Courage Down Under

Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchthai Wongkamlao, Xing Jing, Johnny Nguyen

Direction: Prachya Pinkaew

Rating: HH& 1/2

Here’s another one for some kicks. After Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Stephen Chow and Chow Yun-Fat, say hello to Tony Jaa.

Who is Tony Jaa? He is Thailand’s answer to Hong Kong’s Jackie Chan and Korea’s Chow Yun-Fat. Jaa shot to stardom with his debut film, the worldwide hit Ong Bak (2003). Like Ong Bak, Courage Down Under is also a Thai martial arts flick (originally titled Tom Yum Goong). The film did some good business on its global release last year.

Plenty of chops and kicks here — no prizes for guessing that much. And watching Courage…, it sure looks like Jaa’s training ground has been the entire body of Bruce Lee’s works. In fact, director Prachya Pinkaew peddles it with a dash of The Matrix flair.

In a week that sees no other release (some surprise that, in this multiplex era of multiple releases — and despite Rang De Basanti being postponed), Courage… isn’t a bad deal. In fact, the film is cool, mindless time-pass if you love your action served hot and non-stop. In fact, the stunt trip in the film begins very early —almost 10 minutes into the movie — and goes on till its gripping finale.

Jaa plays Kham, a village guy who knows his karate kicks well and who has a strong bond with his herd of pet elephants. Before you can say The Jungle Book, in come the poachers. They steal Kham’s pet pals, and smuggle the animals all the way to Australia. They are a part of a worldwide poaching syndicate operating out of Sydney (now you see the ‘down under’ connection in the title). Kham gets into action, literally straightaway. He takes on local goons first and, of course, his hunt will finally take him to Oz. Plenty of fights, all smartly canned, should keep action lovers happy and it’s only a matter of 100-odd minutes before our hero realises his mission.

For audiences who lap up such stuff, Courage… may come across as just another sleek fight flick. Importantly for the genre, at a time when Jackie Chan and Jet Li are ageing, the film (coming as it is after Ong Bak) might just have spawned a worthy successor by way of Tony Jaa. The Thai star sure knows his kicks well. Is Hollywood calling?

First Published: Jan 22, 2006 02:18 IST