To be honest when it comes to martial arts I could n’t tell you the difference between Karate and Tae Kwon Do, it doesn’t matter what it’s called it just looks so impressive to watch on screen or in person. When it comes to Thailand its a country right away I could tell you it’s Kick boxing however until I researched a little on the film I’m reviewing here YAMADA: WAY OF THE SAMURAI I didn’t know how diverse in styles Kick boxing was compared to other martial arts.
YAMADA: WAY OF THE SAMURAI (also known as The Samurai of Ayothaya) follows the story of a young Japanese samurai warrior Yamada (Nagamasa)during the Japanese Edo Period in ancient Siam (know better nowadays as Thailand)when they were signing peace treaties. During hi time Yamada discovers an assassination plot against King Naresuan of Ayutthaya, learning to his horror the plotters are his own people disguised as Hongaawdee soldiers the Kings enemies and whilst confronting them Yamada is nearly killed only to be rescued by local remote villagers.
The villager’s nurse Yamada back to health and it’s here he learns the ancient art of Muay Boran (Thai Boxing)learning at the same time the cultures and way of life too. Yamada finally finds a place he belongs to becoming a loyal servant to the king as he combines his samurai skills with his newly found Muay Boran brutal but effective Thai warrior skills to regain his honour as well as serve the King.
If films were rated purely on location, too many films would be getting 5-star ratings constantly and a lot of people would feel very disappointed as well as angry as the film itself is terrible. YAMADA: WAY OF THE SAMURAI is a beautifully shot film showcasing some of Thailand’s sublime cultural attractions, film wise it’s not a great film just an ok film. One problem I have is when film studio’s use models, pop & sports stars as their lead stars, to be honest only a few deserve any merits whilst the rest should have their actors card cut up and told never to return. Seigi Ozeki (who plays Yamada) a Thai based Japanese model who may have the looks but honestly he’s not an actor and I would go as far as calling him the Rosie Huntington-Whitely of Asian cinema(However I would say he is a lot better).Ozeki is constantly out of his depth letting down the other cast who have the ‘sporting talent’, one thing he’s good at is striking a pose though he looks at times lost his lines.
The real star of the film is the action, the kickboxing sequences which are solid as a rock and nicely choreographed. Despite my early dig at our protagonist Ozeki actually at times looked convincing during the action scenes with that action been ruined by CGI blood, slow motion camera techniques made me think I was watching a live action version of the Mortal Kombat video game adopting the Michael Bay style of camera techniques.I wouldn’t say to those Thai warriors faces their hairdo’s (&moustaches)look mighty scary like a cross between Ricky Astley and Magnum PI but most of they do the trick when it comes to entertaining Martial arts fans.
Despite the misgivings of a weak lead, a story that’s wafer thin in depth I actually deep down enjoyed this. It’s Obvious Thai cinema or even most non-Hollywood cinema they may possess big budgets for perspective countries but when it comes to Hollywood there nowhere near matching them and so the film does suffer in many departments.Yamada does provide some good action but when it comes to the old dread comparisons the Ong Bak connection it’s a Thai film and that’s about that, as for the Last Samurai connection is a little bit easier to notice but this film lacks in depth, mildly entertaining though nostalgic for old school martial arts fans.
★★★| Paul Devine
Action, Martial Arts, History | Thailand, 2010 | 15 | 30th January 2012 (UK) | Cine Asia | Dir:Nopporn Watin | Seigi Ozeki, Kanokkorn Jaicheun , Sorapong Chatree | :
Originally posted at Cinehouse | 28th Janruary 2012