By my estimation, there are three distinct types of moviegoers and DVD
collectors. The first group is commonly called a snooty moviegoer; they only
enjoy films that make little sense and almost always have French dialogue.
Basically, if the average viewer has never heard the movie's title, it is a
cinematic achievement. The second type of moviegoer can suspend disbelief and
enjoy nearly anything, provided it can keep their attention. This summer, for
example, was a great one for this type of viewer. Transformers in a kid's
suburban backyard and no one notices? An extended (and ridiculous) dance number
in Spider Man 3? The second type of moviegoer sees no problem with these and
chooses to simply let the movie take them where it will.
The third type of moviegoer is the kind who enjoys mainstream films and
summer blockbusters, but also seeks the purposefully weird, the plain off the
wall and the sometimes shockingly different fare that only special DVD orders
and midnight showings in dilapidated theatres can provide. If you fall into this
last category, keep reading. You'll be delighted to know that Dynamite Warrior,
a Thai film about explosives, cowboys, tattoos and love is not only worth
checking out, but will fit nicely into your DVD collection. If you consider
yourself a member of either of the first two categories, you'll probably just
want to stop reading now; there isn't much here for you to appreciate.
When describing Dynamite Warrior, the best method is to take a quote from The
Simpson's supporting character, Lenny. When describing post-modernism, Lenny
just calls it "weird for the sake of being weird." Those seven words sum up
Dynamite Warrior better than I ever could. The movie tells the story of Zeing, a
young cowboy who, years earlier, witnessed his parents brutal slaying and is on
a mission to hunt down their killer. Instead of following in Bruce Wayne's
all-too-familiar footsteps and becoming the Asian Batman, Zeing instead hunts an
intricately tattooed stranger and eventually gets wrapped up in the fight to
bring down a band of cattle rustlers. Still with me? Didn't think so
Dynamite Warrior somehow packs a love story, a spaghetti western, a kung-fu
movie and a tale of revenge all into one 90-minute film. Though the movie works
great as a package of all these different genres, no particular one aspect of
the film would work on its own. The love story, due to some iffy translation and
often unintentionally hilarious subtitles, never really has any emotional
weight. The spaghetti western aspect plays out like the filmmakers had a better
grasp on old American film's portrayal of the old west, rather than the old west
itself. Apparently, the wild wild west was populated with nothing but broad
stereotypes, rather than actual people. The revenge story, again, never hits any
emotional highs or lows because of the subtitles and wooden performances. What
really ties all these less than realized concepts together are the fight scenes.
The action in Dynamite Warrior makes it fairly easy to ignore the fact that
the story, pacing and acting all leave quite a bit to be desired. By no means
are the battles believable; the film's characters all possess super powers and
the clashes between them more closely resemble anime than live action brawls.
Most of the audience this film is aimed at with be thrilled with the high-flying
aerobatics and lightspeed fisticuffs. In fact, only my favorite martial arts
movie of all time, Dual To The Death, has more intense and entertaining fighting
than Dynamite Warrior. The DVD's box art speaks for itself; a lunging Zeing with
a lit stick of dynamite in each hand tells the viewer right away that the movie
will beI apologize for this in advanceexplosive.
My main complaint with not only Dynamite Warrior, but with most imported and
translated Asian films is the lack of any worthy extras available on the DVD.
This release has a couple of very short features on make-up and stunts, but
other than that, you'll only get a chapter list and a settings screen from this
DVD. Other imported films have less (Battle Royale has only a play icon and a
chapter list), but it isn't a trend that any of us should be particularly happy
If you see Dynamite Warrior at your local Blockbuster, you should probably
rent it, especially if you're into this kind of crazy action film. It might not
be Citizen Kane, but it will certainly be more entertaining than watching
Waiting To Exhale or Failure To Launch or whatever other sappy movie is popular
this week. Crazy fighting, mixed with some interesting takes on generally
American cinematic trends, make Dynamite Warrior a great way to avoid another
night of Law & Order reruns.