Sunday, October 7, 2012

“THE GANGSTER” (ANTAPAL) Thai Film Review. Where GANGSTERISM is spelled as one big ugly WORD.


The tactic of “every which way but loose” is applicable here.

This one tells you all about THE (ANTAPAL) GANGSTER.

And it’s the latest commercial add-on to the regional list of gangster films, many of which are notable duds.

Over the years we have witnessed a deluge of  so many menacing titles flooding the market, in the genre of the Indian gangster, Korean gangster, Malaysian gangster, Pinoy gangster, Singapore gangster, Indonesian gangster and the awesome Hong Kong gangster. The merry list goes on.

Now comes the latest Thai export by the name of THE (ANTAPAL) GANGSTER.

Award winning director KONGKIAT KOMSIRI takes over the helm and leads us through the precarious underbelly of Bangkok’s gangland in this hazy rock-around-the-clock days of the 1950’s in his version.

KONGKIAT, who in recent years had opened our eyes to his body of work such as the critically acclaimed “Muay Thai Chaiya” has affirmed that ANTAPAL GANGSTER offers a real-life portrayal of the Bangkok triads. You decide.

He assures that this is not a remake of NONZEE’s “YOUNG GANGSTERS”, a successful vintage film about young hoodlums. Celluloid gangsterism generates big time business so film makers keep on making them.

  YOUNG GANGSTERS (1997) was a feature that dogged the JOHN WOO-style heroic bloodshed directed by NONZEE NIMIBUTR.

“It may be cool to observe gangsters attired in slick hair and gear, fighting like heroes but I think that’s very superficial. I am giving the story more depth by making  the (ANTAPAL GANGSTER) more true to life,” KONGKIAT expounds proudly.

He indulges in his whim that everyone in the movie, from the lead actors to the supporting cast must be styled to look undesirably ugly, so as to blend in with the depressing chaotic background.

Bad people must necessarily be ugly?

It’s obvious that the 1997 Thai flick directed by NONZEE called “YOUNG GANGSTERS” was afar more arresting, with a stellar cast of fine looking young actors.

They’d have been nearing their 40s by now.

THE ANTAPAL GANGSTER takes you through two generations of gangsters, starting in the 1950’s with Jod (KRISSADA SUKSOL CLAP) and Dang (SOMCHAI KHEMKLAD) who had been imprisoned when there was a nationwide crackdown on mafia.

Upon their release, Jod and buddy Dang had no choice but to return to their familiar mobster trade.

They slave for the ruthless mafia, checking insipid bars and running protection rackets.

They have two ardent followers, Thong  (SAKARIN SUTHAMSAMAI) and Piak (KRISADA SUPARPPROM), who hero worship them, but these newcomers have lofty ideals.

But soon Jod re-examines his life in the light of the harsh reality of being a gangster.

Violence does not guarantee respect, and the police are out to make their lives miserable.

However the young hoodlums Thong and Piak shared a different perception, lured by easy money.

Time does not stand still and naturally age catches up.

Bangkok changes, the environment changes, rules change, and whether you like it or not, everybody’d have to come to terms with their lot.

THE GANGSTER (ANTAPAL) has a tone that is deliriously dark, wild, gory, taut and entertaining.

And the film director exacted a compelling performance from KRISSADA SUKSOL CLAP in the role of Jod.

Go watch it if you an avid follower of  the THAI cinema.

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