3 stars (out of four)
Popular movies--our own as well as those from other lands--often have an unashamed kitschy vulgarity that can be irresistibly entertaining. "Tears of the Black Tiger," from Thailand, is an attempt to re-create that kind of raunchy entertainment. It's a Thai melodrama, about an impossible love between a rich girl and a poor boy turned bandit, that's written and shot as if it were an overdone, overblown Thai movie melodrama from the '50s or '60s.
Everything is proudly, wildly over the top. The hero Seua Dun, a.k.a. "Black Tiger" (played by the handsome and deadly Chartchai Ngamsan), shoots and slashes his foes as if he were a mix of a Toshiro Mifune samurai, a Clint Eastwood gunslinger and Bruce Lee. The heroine, Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi) is a star-crossed damsel who loses her great love, the Tiger, and winds up affianced to dorky police captain Kumjorn (Arawat Ruangvuth). Then there's the main villain, gang boss Fai (Sombati Medhanee), evil as they come.
The writer-director, Wisit Sasanatieng, wrote the scripts for the two biggest Thai movie hits of all time, the recent films "Dang Bireley and the Young Gangsters" and "Nang Nak," both directed by his producer here, Nonzee Nimibutr. But Sasanatieng is not trying to copy current Thai pop style. His models are the lurid old melodramas of Thai filmmaker Rattana Pestonji, who, on the evidence here, liked outrageous over-acting, frustrated romance, extreme hot artificial colors and liberal doses of murder and schmaltz. The result is something so old it's new, so corny it's funny. And while "Tears of the Black Tiger" is nothing more than entertaining, at least it's that.
'Tears of the Black Tiger'
Opens Friday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema. No MPAA rating. Parents cautioned for extreme violence and sexual themes.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times