I've been wanting to see BANG RAJAN for a good three years - and in this age of dvds and internets it's not often I have to wait that long to see something, but life seemed unwilling to give this film a readily available release with English subtitles. Finally, though, after sitting on the title for 2 years and almost missing out on first-to-market to Oliver Stone in the US, HKL spin-off Premier Asia got round to releasing it - in a 2-disc special edition with numerous interviews for extras, no less.BANG RAJAN was a landmark for the Thai film industry, a blockbuster hit that helped to create the recent surge in film production and production values. It tells the true story of a village called Bang Rajan, whose people stood their ground and managed to fight off the northern flank of an invading army from Burma in 1765. Without their bravery, Thailand might just be a province of Burma right now. Bang Rajan wasn't exactly a small village as it turns out, but they were far from a trained army, and were still vastly outnumbered by the invaders. How they managed to hold them off for so long is still a bit of a mystery.As far as I'm aware, there had never been a film made on as large a scale as this in Thailand before - though Tan Mui would have been well into pre-production on Suriyothai when BR was made. Director Tanit Jitnukul seems to be specialising in historical epics a bit, and has made several more since - including the very enjoyable KHUNSUK, which reunites many of the cast members from BANG RAJAN, but weaves a more personal story into the tapestry of the wars and times. BANG RAJAN wants to tell the story of the village, rather than any single individual - though about half a dozen characters are picked out to receive the main focus of the story, or to represent the village as a whole I guess. The director's story-telling skills aren't quite up to the task of weaving together these threads into a coherent picture, but you do get to care somewhat for the characters eventually. The main aim of the film is to show the heroism and predicament of a whole village of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, forced to fight to protect their families and their country. In most war films the fighters are soldiers, and their battles are pretty much divorced from their everyday lives (photos of girlfriends back home etc aside), the villagers of BANG RAJAN are caught up in a war that they just happen to be stood in the way of.What makes BANG RAJAN into a war film, though, are the battle scenes - of which there are many, of a surprising scale and brutality. There's a lot of serious injury, and the sound of flesh being sliced, pierced or lopped off is sometimes relentless. The level and realism of the gore in the film is very high - possibly even higher than Korea's MUSA, almost as if the opening scene of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had been filmed with machetes, axes, hammers, spears and arrows. And still with guns and cannons too, for that matter. The Premier Asia set includes a very nice interview with the producer of the film, where he explains that he knows they can't achieve the degree of "perfection" in battle scenes that Hollywood films can because of their higher budget, but he hopes that the film does at least stand up to international scrutiny in terms of realism. Apart from a few dodgy CGI explosions, I'd say it certainly does.I wish that BANG RAJAN had got a wide release right after it was made, as it would probably have been pretty successful. 5 years later, it's thunder has been somewhat stolen by other films like MUSA, SURIYOTHAI, HERO, WARRIORS OF HEAVEN & EARTH and THE LAST SAMURAI. Compared to these, BR must be judged inferior (well, except for Suriyothai, which was more expensive looking but a less captivating film). The story-telling isn't too tight and most of the acting is unimpressive. It is film-making on a grand scale though, with impressively high production values for its budget (far lower than any of the other films mentioned) and a visceral impact that still stands up. Compared to MUSA it might look a little amateurish, but you have to remember there was no MUSA to compare it to when it came out. I don't suppose BANG RAJAN had much if any influence on those other historical epics that have followed it, since it was probably not seen far outside Thailand, but at least its impact on the Thai film industry must be taken as a credit.Viewed in 2005 it's unlikely to be a life-changing film for anyone, but it's still definitely worth a watch - and I hope that it will sell well enough for Premier Asia to take a few more risks on releasing lesser-known films that don't already have good subtitled releases elsewhere.
I lent this on VCD from a friend of mine and I was impressed. I watched a non-subtitled thai version and I don't understand a word thai.this movie re-accounts the struggle of a small village against one of 2 burmese invasion armies and holds out for about 5 months -against all odds.I was pleasantly surprized to find a thrilling action movie without too much sentiments, but just enough to not all hack & slash and not to much to become hollywoodish overly dramatic to the very annoying level of fase-turn-off-the-dvd-player (like Peal Harbour). The comparison with braveheart is easlily made -since this movie has one of the last mass-armies scenes that is not computer enhanced (like 10 soldiers digitally multiplied by 1000)Which is a very impressive sceneThere are a few flaws. I thought the fight scenes a filmed a bit messy. It does creatw a feeling of the chaos that is melee, but unfortunately, if one can't tell one villager from another -the all look a-like, which makes the action scene little difficult to follow(compare Black Hawk Down where all were mostly caucasian and had short trimmed hair, underneath the identical helmet all wore in combination with the same desertpaterned uniforms). Concerning the main characters, this problem is solved by giving one a babyface, another a mowhawk hairsyle and british-like moustache and another a beard etc. The more you watch the the less this problem becomes The other flaw are the special effects, these are really bad. BUT I must say that didn't annoy me.The story is easy to follow, even the flashbacks are easily spotted. The acting is good (for me I watched bodylanguage, facial expressions and intonation of voice, what else can you do when you don't understand the language) The actionscenes are very impreessive especially those with lots and lots of people fighting. The music is great as well, maybe no John Williams, but more than adequate enough to accompany any feeling a scene should return, whether it's a gentle look between 2lovers or an all out end battleGreat movie -I'm still impressed!
This movie was just released on video in Denmark, and I persuaded a friend to watch it with me. He thanked me afterwards! This is a great movie, and the battles are just INCREDIBLE. You can only compare it to Braveheart, but this movie avoids being as over-the-top romantic.The only problem is that the people are a little hard to tell from each other (wow, do I sound like a racist!). We have a hero with a big moustache. A drunk with a beard. A guy who is younger than everybody else. And thats about it. The rest of the men look like each other with the same haircuts and facial hair. And the names being so different from western names makes it harder to follow. Luckily, it doesn't really matter who of the men did what. This is a film to watch for its fighting scenes.If you liked the fighting in Braveheart, you just have to see this. I believe the budget was smaller for this one, but the battle scenes are very convincing. You have to see it for yourself. Actually I think this movie is better than Braveheart, even though I liked that a lot!
Exciting, full-blooded account of a small village in Siam that held off a far greater force of Burmese for 8 attacks. It may be formulaic at times, but the actors and film makers obviously believe in what they are doing, and the result is some of the most thrilling & simultaneously horrifying battle sequences in some time. The characters are broadly drawn (the stuff of legend). The actors and scenery are very photogenic. The score, filled with pounding drums, is incredible.
Thailand is not the place people would expect to see high quality movies made. Though over the last couple of years some very interesting films have surfaced. This is yet another.This is a biographical tale of a village called Bang Rajan. During the Burmese invasion of Siam (Thailand) in the late 1700's this village played a pivotal part in the war against the invaders.The movie starts out quite below par with a rather cheesy battle scene. Though stick with it, as the film becomes very engrossing shortly after. You get to meet the characters of the film and witness their struggle against the cruel Burmese. The film is about honor and bravery against even the worst of odds.There may be qualms about the acting as most of the cast seem to be amateurs, though this does not detract from the film rather than actually heighten the reality. Some of the special effects are cheap, though the action is great to watch.I give this 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to lovers of pre-1900's war movies and Asian Cinema buffs!