The Longest Running Movie Column in Malaysia Now On The Net
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Cast: Kett Thantup, Savika Chaiyadej, Sura Theerakon and Yarichada Wattanawongsri
Director: Sukhum Mathawanit
Time: 96 mins
Rating: * (out of 4)
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? With the title giving away the plot of this Thai horror attempt, "Train Of The Dead" becomes a cinematic wreck even before it can leave the station. One can only surmise that this pathetic excuse for a movie was produced solely to cash in on Hollywood’s interest in Asian horror – perhaps to get on the bandwagon of recycled Asian thrillers like "The Ring" and "The Grudge"… However, we feel that even if some desperate Hollywood moguls decide to adapt it for American viewers, a major rewrite is necessary to get the story back on track.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? While trying to escape the police, a gang of fumbling robbers crash their getaway car into the shack where Toh (Kett Thantup) is resting after a dirt bike race. The robbers decide to take Toh hostage and somehow they hoist him on board a train.
HOW BAD IS IT? Common sense tell us that getting on a train can never be a good way to flee the cops, but then writer-director Sukhum Mathawanit is not interested in logic. He is only interested in dishing out the ‘thrills’ – and the locomotive serves as a metaphor for ‘carriage of souls’. Yes, the plot gets unravelled very early in the movie and we are left having to tolerate repetitive scenes of squabbling among the robbers, passengers who appear and disappear from the carriages – and very amateurish and annoying acting. Among the robbers is a junkie whose hallucinations provide the opportunity for some of the scarier moments of the movie. Others, like gang leader Joke (Sura Theerakon) make us cringe with his pathetic attempt at acting tough, and Phoomjai Tangsanga (as the cowardly Mued) serves up a gory decapitation sequence.
Well, no Thai offering comes without some eye candy and here we have Savika Chaiyadej looking ravishing as Rahtree, a passenger who tries to rescue Toh from the crooks, and Yarichada Wattanawongsri as June, the gang moll who also has a soft spot for the pretty boy Toh. During the last 10 minutes, we find director Mathawanit rushing to ‘wrap up’ the plot and explain the ‘real’ destination of the train – a fact we have already deduced in the beginning. Also, throughout the movie, we get distracted by dark blotches used to black out the ‘F-word’ in the English subtitles. This is so badly done that the blotches tend to highlight the offending words instead.
THE LOWDOWN: On the whole, "Train Of The Dead" is not beyond salvation. With an experienced cast, a rewrite of the script and dialogue, and proper direction, Hollywood may put this thriller back on track in its remake. However, I won’t be booking the tickets yet.