Filed under: Culture, Film, media, Six of the best | Tags: 1970s, 1980s, 2004 tsunami, America, Ananda Everingham, Angelina Jolie, Asian movies, Bangkok, Bangkok Traffic Love Story, books, boxing, Boxing Day tsunami, Brad Pitt, brothel, CGI, Chaiya, Chiang Mai, crime, Denmark, disaster movies, English language, Eternity, Ewan McGregor, Fight Club, Film, ghosts, Haunted Universities, Hollywood, Hong Kong, horror, horror movies, Indian Ocean, Japan, Khao Lak, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Laddaland, Malai Choopinij, martial arts, muay Thai, Muay Thai Chaiya, Naomi Watts, Nicolas Winding Refn, noir, Only God Forgives, organised crime, paedophilia, Pattaya, Phang Nga, Ploy Cherman, police, psychedelia, revenge, Ryan Gosling, serial killer, sex tourism, sex tourists, Shutter, Slice, Sophon Sukdapisit, splatterhouse, Takeshi Kitano, Thai boxing, Thai film, Thai literature, Thai people, Thailand, thrillers, tsunami, TV series, vice
With late April marking the anniversary of my move to Thailand, and with this year marking my sixth anniversary, I have decided to compile a series of “Six of the Best” features encompassing my hobbies and interests, which I have enjoyed during my time here. I will start with films made in, or set in, Thailand. The list is in chronological order of the year of production.
1. MUAY THAI CHAIYA (2007)
The first Thai film I saw after moving here remains one of my favourites. I watched Muay Thai Chaiya (simply Chaiya/ไชยา in Thai) almost as a token – “I’m in Thailand so I should watch a Thai film” – but I had a similar experience to when I watched Fight Club for the first time. Expecting a simple beat-‘em-up, I was given so much more. Chaiya is, on the surface, a martial arts movie, but its narrative charts the coming of age and moral corruption of three pugilistic brothers as they move from the idyllic southern district of the film’s title to ’70s Bangkok to chase big bucks in the ring.
The three brothers’ fates take differing turns; one’s boxing career is cut short through injury, another pursues legitimate championship aspirations, and the third is drawn into Bangkok’s lucrative but increasingly dangerous underground fighting circuit. Organised crime influences all three, and their competing egos and influences make for a blood-soaked morality play of love triangles, sibling rivalries and childhood bonds. Chaiya culminates in an absurdly violent climax that some of Japan’s more notorious splatterhouse directors would be proud of, yet it is testament to director Kongkiat Khomsiri’s work that it somehow doesn’t come across as unrealistic. (Kongkiat would later direct another of my favourites, Slice – see next entry).
Filed under: Culture, Health, People, Travel | Tags: accidents, babies, Bangkok, beaches, brain, bullets, cannibalism, carnival, Chao Phraya, Chao Phraya Express Boat, China, Chinese, cirrhosis, conjoined twins, cremation, crime, cruises, deformities, disaster, disease, elephantiasis, First World, forensics, Fred West, holidays, horror, human rights, immigration, Krabi, law, markets, medicine, medicine balls, mermaids, movies, murder, museums, mutants, Myra Hindley, organs, parasites, Phuket, rape, restaurants, river cruise, science, scrotum, serial killers, shopping, shopping malls, Si Quey, Siamese twins, Siriraj, Siriraj Hospital, Siriraj Hospital Forensic Museum, skulls, smoking, temples, Thailand, tigers, tourism, tourist attractions, vibrator, Wang Lang, Watch With Mother
Where should one take a visiting mother in Bangkok? Temple-hopping, perhaps? Bargain-hunting in markets and malls? Rooftop or riverside dining? Or maybe to see mutated babies, preserved serial killers, elephantiasis-afflicted scrotums the size of medicine balls, and all manner of diseased, ruptured, punctured, crushed and deformed organs, skulls and limbs?
If that, rather than a Chao Phraya cruise, is what floats your – or your mother’s – boat, then jump on board a ferry to Siriraj Hospital’s Forensic Museum, which mixes genuine scientific endeavour with the kind of shock appeal previously reserved for Victorian carnival freakshows or 1980s body-horror movies.