Vanquisher (2009)
By: Captain Red Eye on July 22, 2011  | 
DVD
Eastern Eye | Region 4, PAL | 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Thai DD 5.1 | 89 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Manop Udomdej
Starring: Jacqui A. Thananon, Nui Ketsarin, Naranyu W. Kajang, Pete Tongchuer, Pimpan Chalayonkupt
Screenplay: Manop Udomdej
Country: Thailand
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Known in its native land as Beautiful Samurai, Vanquisher sees a Thai-born CIA operative with the code name of Gunja (Sophita Sriban) taking part in a covert mission in Southern Thailand. The purpose of the operation is explained to the team en route by 'Claire' (Jacqui Thananon), the leader of the mission, by showing her agents a picture of a bearded Middle Eastern terrorist and espousing thusly: 'This is [unintelligible]. He's [unintelligible], age 45. He's about six foot tall Caucasian? Very dangerous man.'

As you may have gathered from this brief exchange many of the actors involved in this low-budget outing have a less than convincing grasp of the English language, and the subtitles don't work. At any rate following several flurries of unconvincing gunfire the site of the mission is blown to pieces by Claire and Gunja is abandoned to her fate for reasons to obscure to go into here. Several years later the two cross paths again, and once a number of complicated subplots involving black-clad Japanese ninjas, a Kenyan arms dealer, assorted Muslim bad guys, Thai special ops, various CIA operatives and an Al Qaida agent hiding in Claire's apartment have been dealt with satisfactorily, there may actually be time for some vengeance.

Described somewhat ambitiously by its producers as the action movie of the millennium, from its opening scene Vanquisher has an all-pervasive straight to video feel, something akin to the Thai equivalent of a midday movie directed by Steven Seagal. I haven't seen an overwhelming number of Thai films of late, but if recent outings like Fireball and Vanquisher are indicative of the Kingdom's present state of cinematic output this is possibly a good thing. Reviewers of the latter have alternately bemoaned the lack of acting ability, cleavage and narrative cohesion and I would add my small voice to this chorus, particularly as regards the dearth of cleavage. I mean, recent fare like Horny House of Horror and Big Tits Zombie didn't make a great deal of sense, but what they lacked in gravitas they more than compensated for in boobies. I hadn't even considered this point until reading some of the film's online reviews, but once the nippular deficit was brought to my attention I couldn't help but concur.

Titty shortage aside Vanquisher also suffers from stilted acting, unconvincing special effects ('bombs' that look like firecrackers going off and the like) and extremely choppy editing. After Gunja is double crossed by Claire she spends a second or two immersed in a CGI fireball then in the very next shot is shown unconscious on a beach, with no indication how she washed up there or why she is so impervious to drowning and immolation. From this point on - the six minute mark - the film raises more questions than it answers. I like a low budget female assassin flick (think Naked Weapon) as much as the next man, but this one just didn't cut it.
Video
The film is quite dark in places, particularly during a pivotal swordfight scene that is positively drenched in shadow, and picture quality is ever so slightly soft throughout.
Audio
Despite the fact a number of cast members are far from proficient in the language (and several seem to have learned their lines phonetically), the film's producers made the decision to shoot Vanquisher in English – at least, that's the only version adorning the local release. Presumably this was done to maximise the film's appeal to overseas audiences, but it is ignoring one very important point: we Westerners enjoy watching foreign films in their native tongue as it makes us feel cultured and ever so superior to those crass folk busy having their brains crammed full of tat at the local multiplex. I for one was saddened to have been robbed of this sense of elitism, and the two available 'Thai 5.1' and 'Thai 2.0' audio options have been listed erroneously – the film in its present version has been shot, not dubbed, in mostly stilted English. English subtitles are also listed on the setup menu though these don't actually work either; they come on automatically whenever Thai or Japanese is spoken, or when a foreign actor speaks English with a particularly strong accent, which is often, but otherwise the English subs are non-existent.
Extra Features
Not much going here, just a theatrical trailer and several Eastern Eye trailers.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
See above remarks re: breasts, production values and acting ability (lack thereof). Vanquisher won't win any awards, and probably doesn't deserve any, but it was still quite entertaining in a low budget, straight to DVD, midday-movie-directed-by-Steven-Seagal kind of way.

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