I have been sick (on and off) the last two weeks, so Netflix is becoming one of my good friends. Last night I was feeling kind of low energy, but I wanted to watch something a bit faster paced. I know some of you are looking at the title like… seriously?? – I assure you, I am NOT talking about the film co-staring Johnny Depp, though, that was actually a pretty good movie if you haven’t seen it. But I digress, and this is something I wish to stay on topic for.
The movie follows Zen (JeeJa Yanin), a young autistic girl, whose mother is dying of cancer. When a friend finds a list of people that owe her mom money, she decides to collect the debts to pay for her mother’s treatments. Now, I guess she has some form of autism that allows her to quickly process patterns, and somehow this ability is applied to learn martial arts simply by seeing the moves being performed. She spends hours watching classic films and comes out some kind of super bad-ass! There are some elements of “family honor” and “gang pride”, but neither play any role but pretense. While I can agree that the story is kind of hollow, and extremely cliche, in the end, it doesn’t matter. The action scenes completely make up for the lack in deep plot.
The choreography was amazing, it’s been a long time since I have seen such detail in the stunts and action. Every fight is one “Oh Snap!!” to the next! The action comes seriously close to being over the top, but I think it held back just enough to be believable (believable within the vague storyline that is). I don’t know how to describe the intensity, but I think “DAAAAYYYYYUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!” just about covers anything I can’t express.
It looks as if most of the stunts are actually being performed, and many of them had an above average level of danger involved. There are many tense fighting moments, and knowing that most of this is done without camera tricks, really adds to the effect. Few movies take the time to do things without CGI and green screening, and the ones that do, can really shine in this world of fake action.
Now, I can’t say I am all “Woo-Hoo” over this film, without mentioning my own daughter. My youngest was born with a form of autism spectrum, so I couldn’t help but analyze the portrayal of an autistic person in the movie. Some things they got right, but they were poorly implemented, and others were just plain over-exaggerated.
The main character, Zen, shows aspects of an OCD-like organization, with the introverted nature of an autistic child. She has a taste for chocolates, and arranges them in order of color, then proceeds to eat them in a specific manner each time. She also has an extreme fear of flies (or maybe just flying insects), and over-reacts every time she sees them. These things are all basically true of autistic kids, but the acting is poorly done, and often times I see the action causing the actress to fall out of character. I also find it very far fetched that an autistic child would be capable of this much processing.
But it is only a story, after all, and it is meant to be a fun, action filled event, which it pulls off very well! If you don’t mind subtitling, since the movie is spoken in mostly Thai, you will be very content to watch. The movie has an ‘R’ rating, but I think it would be OK for a PG-13 audience, PROVIDED that your teen can handle seeing one boob, an insinuated sex scene and a few gunshot wounds. Most of the fight scenes put a bit of that “Jackie Chan” comedy into the action, so it does kind of offset the intensity overall. If it weren’t so graphic at times, I would let my older daughter (5.75) watch this (the violence is just a tad too much, plus, she can’t read yet lol). She loves movies where the girls kick ass! I don’t know if I would let my little Weasel watch it, since I would rather not get choke-slammed the next time I don’t get her a cookie!
<Weasel who battles with honor >