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August 2011

Edge Of The Empire

cast: Than Thanakorn, Sara Legge, and Awain Muangawan

director: Nirattisai Kaljareuk

96 minutes (12) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Metrodome DVD Region 2

RATING: 7/10
review by Matthew S. Dent

Edge Of The Empire

It's always a completely different experience reviewing foreign-language films to English ones. Regardless of how you look at it, subtitles create a different interface with the story (and, though I may be in a minority here, dubbing just screws up the experience altogether). I'm not sure how this has affected my impression of Edge Of The Empire, but I'm left with a worrying feeling that I may not have liked it so much, had it been in English.

Nevertheless, I can only take it as it is, and I did like Edge Of The Empire rather a lot. It was an exciting little historical drama purporting to tell the story of the Thai people in their fight for independence from the Chinese empire. I say 'purports', because I can't verify precisely how much is of this is historically accurate. The Chinese in the film seem a little caricatured as pantomime villains, and the Thai as virtuous heroes, which leads me to believe that some bias may have entered into the process, but as a piece of entertainment, it is very good.

The acting is of a high standard, and the storyline seems believable, if - as I mentioned before - a little pantomime in places. The fact is the whole thing felt artfully and lovingly made. A piece of nationalistic Thai propaganda it may be, but damn it looks and feels good, which is not to say that the film is perfect. There is definitely room for improvement, for example there are a few places where less would definitely have been more. The CGI, for example, is brilliant in the beginning - but when it's used to show the vast armies of China, it feels a bit sub-standard.

Similarly, with the gore... The war wounds are mostly to the tasteful side of Saw, and the fight scenes to the realistic side of The Matrix. But, just occasionally, the director's concentration lapses, and a very out of place gushing neck-stump would make an appearance. Even considering that, it is better than a lot of films. The characters are believable and well-acted, and the fact that they create realistic sympathy means that it will be playing with your reactions when it starts bumping off characters with no regard for where they rank on the cast list.

Would I recommend this? Yes, I would. Not as a history textbook, but as an example of how to make a good film, which transcends language and culture. It kept me entertained for the duration, having sucked me in from the beginning. It is, in short, a good film.



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