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The Kick - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Deo Kik

South Korea, Thailand 2011

Action, Martial Arts, Comedy

Prachya Pinkaew

Jo Jae-hyeon
Ye Ji-won
Na Tae-joo
Tae Mi
Jija Yanin Vismistananda
Petchtai Wongkamlao
Lee Kwang-hoon
Kim Yi-roo
Thanathep Sucharitchan
Jamruen Somboon
Sarawoot Kumsorn
Sumret Muengput

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The Kick

Story: Moon (Jo Jae-hyeon) is a taekwondo teacher and also teaches his wife Yoon (Ye Ji-won) as well as his children Taemi (Tae Mi) and Taeyang (Na Tae-joo). Taeyang is supposed to win a gold medal for him at the next Olympic Games, but he actually would like nothing more than to become a dancer. One day the whole family goes to Thailand for a perfomance of their skills and Taeyang sees that gangster boss Seok-du (Lee Kwang-hoon) carries a kris with him which is in fact a Thai national treasure that has been stolen not so long ago. He manages to take the kris from him, but from that day on Seok-du is bent on seeking revenge. While their father and mother stay home the children go to their uncle Mum (Petchtai Wongkamlao) and his niece Wawa (Jija Yanin) in the countryside. There they are attacked by Seok-du's men and the youngest son of the family is kidnapped. Seok-du plans to use the boy as leverage for Moon to get him the kris. This actually turns out to be impossible since it is heavily guarded, but as national heroes of Thailand - after all they got the kris back - the family is soon giving a performance where the national treasure will be on display, too.

Review: It is really an odd mix you get with "The Kick". The fights and stunts are clearly Thai in nature, if it weren't for the Taekwondo subject as well as a mainly Korean cast. Is this whole thing working in the end? Yes, and pretty well, too! Reason for that being that the Korean actors have the talent and the experience in acting that the actors in Thai productions usually lack. Accordingly, the actors can often hide the fact that the screenplay is awfully flat and the characters are actually extremely shallow. Thus, acting-wise "The Kick" doesn't turn out as awkward and unintentionally funny as comparable action comedies, yet convinces with similarly balls-to-the-wall and spectacular stunts. No doubt, this Korean-Thai production was a wise choice of the director.

The Kick - Film Screenshot 11

Of course, Prachya Pinkaew is everything but a newbie in the industry. His fantastic "Tom Yum Goong" with Tony Jaa in the lead is one of the best martial arts movies to date. His movies ooze out the kind of energy and fun that characterized the 80s Jackie Chan movies. This also means that the stunts are naturally really tough in nature most of the time and some of the painful bloopers can also be watched when the credits roll with a face distorted by pain. But it's just this kind of 100 percent physical effort that we learned to love in his movies. It's just a shame that it still seems to be impossible writing a good screenplay for an action comedy. After all, what you get here storywise is almost a joke and typical for a B movie.

The Kick - Film Screenshot 12

Why "The Kick" stands out from other works in terms of quality nonetheless are the characters. They may not be written that well, but putting the focus on the dynamic relationship between the family members is wise and saves the film from boring you when there isn't any action involved. This is mainly the achievement of Jo Jae-hyeon ("Moebius") and Ye Ji-won ("HaHaHa") who normally can be seen in art house flicks and thus can't play their poorly written characters worse than their honor as actors allows them. Apart from that they manage to impress with a few nice action scenes. However, they aren't the heavyweights in the fights. This burden has to be shouldered by Na Tae-joo and he does so with ease. Prachya Pinkaew and choreographer Phanna Rithikrai have a knack for discovering new talents and Na is certainly one of them.

Na Tae-joo actually looks as if he would dance in a boyband, but then he suddenly displays some spectacular tricking with numerous twists and impressive kicks that even Tony Jaa would applaud him for. It's a shame that he hasn't been been in additional martial arts flicks to date, because he certainly has skills and most of all the typical Korean teen heartthrob charisma. His fights are the heart of the martial arts action and concerning the choreography Phanna Rithikrai, who saidly has passed away recently, has come up with quite some nice ideas. Next to interesting locations, to which the protagonists are randomly led to by the screenplay, and innovative use of the surroundings in the fights or a comedic fight involving kitchen utensils there is particularly one scene that excites when Na Tae-joo combines hip hop with taekwondo. The smoothness of his moves is fantastic and it all adds up so well that you start to wonder why there isn't a whole movie centering around this!

The Kick - Film Screenshot 13

In a supporting role there is also “Jija” Yanin Vismistananda ("Chocolate") to be seen and like Tae Mi as the daughter she can display some nice moves, contrary to what she delivered in "Tom Yum Goong 2", which is also where you know Petchtai Wongkamlao from, who once again takes over a comedic role. Oh yeah, and there are also a few elephants that naturally need to star in the movie.
"The Kick" struggles with a poor script and bad cgi scenes, but the constantly high pacing and the good actors, who often manage to conceal the B movie flair, make this Thai-Korean co-production a fun ride for the whole family, also thanks to decent humor, and the very nice display of martial arts will appeal to action fans. Therefore, the movie almost would have deserved a better rating, but unfortunately the flaws in respect to the story and the fact that not all gags hit the mark get in the way.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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