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The Bodyguard
cast: Petchtai Wongkamlao, and Pumwaree Yodkamol

directors: Panna Rittikrai and Petchtai Wongkamlao

105 minutes (15) 2004
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Wongkom is the dedicated bodyguard of businessman Choi, but when he fails to protect his principal against overwhelming odds, son and heir Chai blames him for allowing his father to die. However, when mysterious kidnappers come after Chai, and he has to hide out with a family of gamblers and wastrels in the slums, it's down to Wongkom to find and protect the boy. This is made rather more complex by the fact that Chai is in love with the daughter of his hosts, and his attackers have no qualms about using her against him. Can Wongkom rescue Chai and unmask the mysterious figure trying to seize control of the family company?

This Thai action comedy is something of a mixed bag. The action travels well enough, with gunfights, acrobatics, explosions and kickboxing aplenty, but much of the comedy is distinctly lost in translation. Even the jokes that are intelligible are no great shakes - comedy transvestites, henchmen who don't understand the gang's dress code, and so on. The best humour is when the film plays with its own artificiality: a kickboxing stranger (Tony Jaa, star of Ong-Bak) who helps out for no particular reason, a henchman dragged away at the end protesting that he's never working with this director again.

Despite the title, the film is actually about Chai's journey into adulthood, love, and social responsibility. Which is probably a good thing, because while co-director Wongkamlao glowers effectively as the eponymous bodyguard, he never really engages our sympathies, and it doesn't take a degree in film studies to work out who's behind the evil plot. The romance is quite sweet, though, and provides the film with a spectacular (if rather unlikely) ending.

The extras consist of trailers and a pedestrian 'making of', all pretty much like the film itself - undemandingly enjoyable, but run-of-the-mill. Unless you're a real devotee of Thai cinema, this one probably isn't worth going out of your way to watch.

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