Film-Forward Review: [BANG RAJAN]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Villagers on the attack in BANG RAJAN
Photo: Magnolia Pictures

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Directed by: Thanit Jitnukul.
Produced by: Uncle.
Written by: Kongat Komsiri, Boontin Tuaykaew, Patikarn Petchmunee, Thanit Jitnukul & Sittipong Mattanavee.
Director of Photography: Vichien Ruangvichayakul.
Edited by: Sunit Asvinikul & Thanin Tienkaew.
Music by: Chatchai Pongprapaphan.
Released by: Magnolia Pictures.
Language: Thai with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: Thailand. 119 min. Not Rated.
With: Chumporn Tapephitak, Atthakorn Suwannaraj & Jaran Ngamdee.

This is the legend of Bang Rajan, a Siamese village of ordinary men and women who held back the powerful invading Burmese forces in 1765. With wit and courage, the villagers battle 100,000 Burmese troops entering from the north - eight times - and delay the advances of the Burmese for a full five months. As a consequence, their tenacity ruins the Burmese plan to join its troops from the west and conquer the Siamese capital.

A miracle, one would say. But the film proves otherwise.

The story is one big battle. It starts out with an elderly Bang Rajan leader becoming wounded, forcing the villagers to chose a new warrior to lead their troops. They recruit a refugee from another village to take control, Chan (Jaran Ngamdee), whose son and wife were murdered by the Burmese. Like Chan, many Siamese refugees are welcomed into Bang Rajan, and all are united by their hatred towards the Burmese. In desperation, Bang Rajan seeks aid from the Siamese capital, but is rejected. The villagers, lacking resources, stand alone against overwhelming odds. Their determination is moving as it is convincing.

With its historical background and battle scenes, Bang Rajan is a strikingly powerful and impressionable film. The fighting sequences are quite gruesome and intense. The Siamese fight with long and thick axes - a heavy weapon that cuts through with a thud. Their village life, in contrast, is peaceful and humble, making the brutality displayed quite alarming. A thoughtful piece overall, this historical action film will stay with you for a long time afterward. Hazuki Aikawa, journalist, director of the documentary Yancha
September 4, 2004



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