Thailand’s ‘Black Tiger’ is over-the-top western

  • By Robert Horton / Herald Movie Critic
  • Thursday, March 1, 2007 9:00pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

The Thai film “Tears of the Black Tiger” took a long time to get from its initial film-festival success to a regular run. That’s if you think the gap between 2001 and 2007 is a long time. Which it is.

It’s nice that the movie is finally getting its due, although it’s difficult to know how to recommend it. Or to whom.

The film is apparently to Thai cinema what “Kill Bill” was to American exploitation movies. It’s a pastiche of styles and genres, but the basic format seems to be “Eastern Western.”

There is a conventional plot, which could have come out of any number of old movies. A young man, Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), is enraged after his father is killed by bandits. Dum becomes a slick gunslinger (meet “The Black Tiger”) and joins the bandit gang, the better to exact his vengeance.

There’s a woman (Stella Malucchi), of course, and a romantic rival and a young gun (Supakorn Kitsuwon) to compare six-shooters with Dum. Their exaggerated showdowns are sometimes hilarious.

All of this nonsense is rendered in colors that are both unnaturally bright and somewhat faded, as though we were watching a film made in the 1960s that hadn’t been restored yet. Even then, it would have to be a campy western shot in pastel colors in the 1960s, and there weren’t too many of those.

Writer-director Wisit Sasanatieng is paying tribute to a certain kind of Thai film from the 1950s and ’60s. This reference will be lost on most of us, but there’s something universal about insane, over-the-top outrageousness – like when the film stops itself with a question to the audience (“Did You Catch That?”) and then plays out a wild scene of violence again so we can see it better.

All of this is cool, but I’d be lying if I said the movie sustained itself, or even made much sense. Some long flashbacks are firmly in the realm of soap opera, and move about as slowly.

I’m sure there must be an audience for this combination of operatic romance and blood-spraying action. It’s probably the same audience looking forward to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s “Grindhouse.” Think of this as a first course.

A scene from “Tears of the Black Tiger.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Kotor's zigzagging town wall rewards climbers with a spectacular view. (Cameron Hewitt / Rick Steves' Europe)
Rick Steves: Just south of Dubrovnik lies unpolished Montenegro

One of Europe’s youngest nations offers dramatic scenery, locals eager to show off their unique land, and a refreshing rough-around-the-edges appeal.

Dark gray wheels and black exterior accents provide extra visual appeal for the 2024 Subaru Impreza’s RS trim. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Impreza loses a little, gains a lot

The brand’s compact car is fully redesigned. A couple of things are gone, but many more have arrived.

TSR image for calendar
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

This weekend in Snohomish: The Snohomish Blues Invasion and the Snohomish Studio Tour 2023.

Made by Bruce Hutchison, the poster for “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is an homage to 1985 classic “The Goonies.” (Photo provided)
Indie film premiering on Whidbey Island

Filmed almost entirely on Whidbey Island, “A Momentary Diversion on the Road to the Grave” is set to premiere in Langley.

TSR image only
Does your elementary school child have ADHD?

It’s important to identify children with this condition so we can help them succeed in school.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

A clump of flowering ornamental grass or pennisetum alopecuroides in an autumn garden.
My garden runneth over with fountain grasses, and for good reason

These late-blooming perennials come in many varieties. They work well as accents, groundcovers, edgings or in containers.

This Vacasa rental is disgusting. Can I get my money back?

The vacation rental Carol Wilson books for her group through Vacasa is infested with rats and insects. Vacasa offers to refund one night, but can they get all of their money back?

A woman diverts from her walk on Colby Avenue to take a closer look at a pickup truck that was partly crushed by a fallen tree during an overnight wind storm Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in north Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)
Storm season is coming. Here’s how to prepare for power outages.

The most important action you can take is to make an emergency preparedness kit.

Most Read