Review: Dynamite Warrior

The film is a mess of schlocky supernaturalism, uninspired East-meets-West adventure, insipid backstory, and random feats of dexterous human might

Dynamite Warrior
Photo: Magnolia Pictures

Before a press screening of Transformers last week, I joked that if Lucy Liu and Michael Peña had been cast as machines in the film, their exteriors would have been painted yellow and brown, respectively. You have to crack wise like this before watching a Michael Bay movie or the man’s unchecked misogyny and racism becomes too difficult to withstand. Nothing—not even multiple viewings of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End—can prepare anyone for the almost complete and total incoherence of Transformers, but there’s one upside to Bay’s latest stink bomb: It makes Dynamite Warrior seem almost articulate by comparison. Director Chalerm Wongpim, whose only worthy credit to date was operating the camera on the set of The Protector, takes a bite out of Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior and Kung Fu Hustle and spits out a superfluous mess of schlocky supernaturalism, uninspired East-meets-West adventure, insipid backstory, and random feats of dexterous human might. Unlike Kung Fu Hustle, even Tears of the Black Tiger, the setting and lone-hero mythos the film borrows from American history and cinematic tradition is never commented upon, thus becoming a distancing device of the most useless kind. Exuding zero po-mo pizzazz, Dynamite Warrior doesn’t so much recall the kickass beatdowns from Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior as it does any fight sequence from The Bionic Woman, except all the campy bionic noises are replaced with tired whooshing sounds and bone-crunching sound effects. The same delayed adolescence that responds to Transformers may get a kick out of the main character’s ability to travel across long distances on dynamite sticks ignited by his spark-producing fingers, or the idea of menstrual blood being used as a form of fuel. Everyone else, though, will recognize that Dynamite Warrior runs on the same brand of empty.

 Cast: Dan Chupong, Puttipong Sriwat, Panna Rittikrai, Samart Tipthamai, Kanyapak Suwannakoot, Somdej Keawlue, Ampol Rattanawong, Wichai Promchan, Namphon Pakdee, Pantipa Rachoo  Director: Chalerm Wongpim  Screenwriter: Yuthapong Pirayuthapon, Chalerm Wongpim  Distributor: Magnolia Pictures  Running Time: 103 min  Rating: NR  Year: 2006  Buy: Video

Ed Gonzalez

Ed Gonzalez is the co-founder of Slant Magazine. His writing has also appeared in The Village Voice and The Los Angeles Times. He’s a member of the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Association, and the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association.

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