Thursday, 15 October 2015

Legend of the Tsunami Warrior (2008)

"16th Century Thai Aquaman!" would be a kind of frivolous way of describing this movie, but not an entirely inaccurate one.  The plot involves a young orphan boy from a fishing village, who grows up to become a practitioner of Dulum - a magical art which allows him to speak with and command fishes, as well as special words of power that unleash blasts of physical force.  There are nine total levels of this mystic art.  A wise man in the village can teach him the first three, but to learn more he must seek out the famed Dulum Master "White Ray".

Meanwhile, evil pirates - led by a man who is himself a Dulum practitioner - are threatening the kingdom of Langkasuka.  The Queen of this land seeks allies against the pirates, and plans to wed her sister to the prince of a neighboring land.

The pirates are also a threat to the young man's village, and he joins local warriors - and a shipwrecked Chinese inventor - in an ongoing battle against the marauders.  This distracts him from seeking out White Ray, so he remains a novice user of his powers.  Which explains why he's not able to do a lot when the pirates get tired of the villagers attacks and strike back in force.  He does manage to survive, however, and becomes embroiled in the wider Langkasuka-Pirate war.

This film has sumptuous costumes and sets, and some well-staged action sequences.  There's some wire-fu in there, but the action scenes mostly seem a little more grounded than those common in Chinese films.  Well, except the ones where Dulum plays a significant role, at least.

On the other hand, the film runs pretty long at a full two hours, and it sometimes takes longer with things than it needs to.  The subplots also don't resolve in a way that I think most western viewers will find satisfying.

Overall, I'd say check it out only if you've got a hankering to see a Thai take on the "mythic epic" school of film-making, or if you really, really want to see a guy ride a giant manta ray.  The protagonist does a lot of that in this movie.

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