Raging Phoenix (2009)
By: J.R. McNamara on June 27, 2011  | 
Eastern Eye (Australia) | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Thai DD 5.1 | 109 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Rashane Limtrakul
Starring: Yanin Vismistananda, Patrick Tang, Nui Saendaeng, Sompong Leartvimolkasame
Screenplay: Sompope Vejchapipat
Country: Thailand
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Sometimes a martial arts film can make your jaw drop. Ong Bak was one, and Chocolate was another. The scenes of the actor's and stunt people's physical abilities make some viewer's sit back and say 'Must have been a special effect', but it would seem the new breed of action films from Thailand are finding people whose disregard for the limits of their own bodies is sitting those detractors on their arses. When I first watched Ong Bak I was just as stunned by Tony Jaa's skills as I was the first time I saw Bruce Lee in  Enter the Dragon many years ago. Now kicking butt in the action world is the beautiful and skilled-up Jija Yanin, who was impressive in the aforementioned Chocolate, but spectacular in this film, Raging Phoenix.
Raging Phoenix, or Deu Suay Doo (it's original title) is from the producers of Ong Bak and was dircted by Rashane Limtrakul. Co-starring with Yanin is Kazu Patrick Tang, a French Trickz champion (Trickz is a form of martial arts and acrobatics, thinks skateboarding tricks without the board) along with actors/martial arts talents Nui Sandang (who plays Pigshit - I kid you not), Somphong Leartvimolkasame (Dogshit - still not kidding), Boonprasert Salangam (Bullshit... seriously) and ex-cop and Thai female bodybuilding champion Roongtawan Jindasing (as Jaguar London).
Raging Phoenix tells the story of musician Deu (Yanin) who, due to her bad attitude and some bad luck, finds herself at odds with everyone around her. One day, while drunk and wandering the city, Deu is descended upon by a bunch of guys who attempt to kidnap her. They are stopped by a man who, whilst seemingly pissed as a newt, is able to dispatch them with more skill than she believes possible. She discovers he is an expert in a martial art known as Meyraiyuth, a combination of drunken boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira and... ready for this... American hip hop/B-Boy dancing that uses the excessive consumption of alcohol as its fuel, and some hoodoo about how 'pain' is the key to perfecting it.
After being introduced to his cohorts Dogshit and Pigshit, she discovers that she was almost abducted by the Jaguar Gang, an evil (booo! hiss!) group that kidnaps women who have a particular scent, and when they are forced into extreme depression, their tears can be manufactured into a chemical that has almost magical restorative health qualities. Deu demands to be taught how to fight in their style and after a few shots and about 10 minutes of filmic exposition, she is ready to join them so they can kick the arses of not just the Jaguar Gang, but also their menacing boss, Jaguar London.
Basically, the plot is little more than a level of the scrolling beat 'em up Double Dragon, but the fighting is amazing to watch: it's like UFC fights performed by members of Cirque du Solei being choreographed by Paula Abdul. I am no naysayer, but even I wondered if any of it was a special effect.
Speaking of which, there is an occasional CGI effect that is pretty naff. You'll know them when you see them, and they really detract to the overall quality of the film, and were probably unnecessary. I will point out that these effects aren't of fighting, but of backgrounds where the scene must have been done in front of a green screen.
Overall I really enjoyed this film, but more as a circus goer than a film fan. The foundation of this film is built on the martial arts skills of the performers and not of their acting skills or of a Shakespearean plot
A tight and crisp image presented in a 16:9 enhanced 1.78:1 aspect ratio with accompanying English subtitles.
The soundtrack - presented in both Thai Dolby Digital and DTS - has no apparent flaws, except for the voice of Jija Yanin, which occasionally is so annoying that you may be inclined to stick a skewer through your ear.
Extra Features
A good collection of extras on this disc.
Behind the scenes is literally just that. A BTS with no voiceover or explanation, just footage of the cast and crew going about the business of making the film. It does include some impressive fighting rehearsals and the occasional slip up.
There is a series of cast and crew interviews, where the main six actors, and the director and stunt choreographer discuss the various aspects of their crafts. This is all in Thai with English subtitles, but it is interesting to note that the interview with actor who played Sanin, Kazu Patrick Tang, is in French... probably becasue he is French! The comments are mostly interesting, but there is the usual 'he/she is the best' styled copmments that pop up in this type of thing.
There are also the trailers for Raging Phoenix, Chocolate, Ong Bak 3, Merantau and Kamui.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Not the greatest story for a martial arts/action film but when it comes down to it, these films are watched for the amazing scenes of fighting carnage, which Raging Phoenix provides in spades. The premise of getting your power to fight from the consumption of alcohol is not a new one here in Australia – just go to any pub on a Saturday night - but it is a fun one. The martial arts scenes are stunning and I have to say I was entertained throughout. This film is a top-rocking, cold-cocking, body-blocking barrel of martial arts fun.

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