- 1 hr 32 min
The 2008 Thai martial arts film, Chocolate, directed by Prachya Pinkaew, premiered to critical acclaim for its introduction of a new female action star, Yanin Vismitananda, better known by her stage name, JeeJa Yanin. The movie follows the story of Zen (Yanin) who has grown up in harsh conditions and an impoverished environment since her mother, Zin (Ammara Siripong), was forced to leave her father, Masashi (Hiroshi Abe), a Japanese gangster. Zen suffers from autism and develops extraordinary skills from observing and replicating action sequences from Muay Thai fight videos, to aid her in earning the money for her motherâs expensive cancer treatments.
Zenâs talent for martial arts grows as she partners with her neighbor (Taphon Phopwandee), who teaches her the art of fighting. Together, they embark on a mission to reclaim the money owed to Zin by a group of petty criminals, who refuse to pay. Along the way, they encounter various adversaries and obstacles, including the boss of a crime syndicate, Priscilla (Dechawut Chuntakaro), who will do everything in her power to stop them from retrieving the money.
The fight scenes in the movie are the primary focus, and Yaninâs skill and precision leave a lasting impression on the viewers. The stunts are brilliantly choreographed and performed, and the camera captures the beauty of every move, making the viewer feel like they are witnessing something beyond human capability.
The storyline follows a similar structure to Pinkaewâs previous movie, Ong-Bak (2003), where the protagonist (Tony Jaa) goes on a mission to retrieve something that has been stolen from him. Both movies share the same producer, Martial-Arts Master Prachya Pinkaew, which is why there is a passion for martial arts embedded in the soul of these movies. However, Chocolate differs from Ong-Bak as it involves a female protagonist.
Despite being a movie filled with action sequences, Chocolate also shows the raw emotions of a mother and daughter duo struggling to survive in a manâs world. Masashiâs presence gives the audience a glimpse of the father Zen has never met and the burden Zin has had to carry all these years.
Another unique aspect of the movie is the costume design, which featured colorful outfits and unconventional weapons, such as a chained denim jacket used to fight the adversaries. The vibrant colors worn by Zen and her partner contrast sharply with the dull, grayish shades of the dingy alleys and concrete buildings.
The movie's soundtrack is composed of orchestral scores with powerful harmonies, creating an intense atmosphere that compliments the fights well. The sound engineer, Dvongsak Rattajangchang, plays a crucial role in the movie by amplifying the sound effects of every punch, kick, and collision, making the audience feel every hit as if they were the ones on the receiving end.
Overall, Chocolate offers a unique perspective in the world of martial arts movies by introducing a female protagonist who offers the audience a fresh, new take on how the action genre can still hold the audience's attention without relying on hypermasculine stereotypes. The audience is taken on a journey of emotion and intense action by JeeJa Yanin, and the movie is a testament to the talent and dedication of Prachya Pinkaew, who brings out the best of the Thai movie industry.
Chocolate is a 2009 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 32 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.9.