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An autistic girl with intense fighting skills discovers a list of debtors in her horribly ill mother's diary and decides to go collecting, only to find herself up against an organized crime ring.
For more about Chocolate and the Chocolate Blu-ray release, see Chocolate Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on February 13, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: JeeJa Yanin, Ammara Siripong, Hiroshi Abe
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
» See full cast & crew
Chocolate Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, February 13, 2009
An autistic heroine is forced to confront her mother's foes in Thai action guru Prachya Pinkaew's "Chocolate" (2008). Though not as polished as the director's impressive "Ong-bak", the film packs a good dose of kicks and jabs that should make an impression on martial arts fans. Distributed by Magnolia Pictures.
A Japanese killer (Hiroshi Abe, Fist of the Northern Star: The Legend of Toki) and his Thai sweetheart (Ammara Siripong) must face the wrath of a powerful underworld boss (Pongpat Wachirabunjong, The Tiger Blade) guarded by a group of fashionably-dressed transvestites. They manage to dodge the bullet(s) and eventually part ways leaving behind an autistic child (JeeJa Yanin).
Years later. The child has grown into a beautiful girl, but the mother has fallen ill. In order to collect enough money to pay their medical bills, their cousin begins visiting forgotten clients with long overdue debts from the mother's murky past. Things heat up quickly.
I've seen Chocolate twice now and the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that its simplistic narrative is the key reason why I was able to enjoy it. I approached the film with an open mind knowing that what I would see would probably be nothing more than a continuation of Prachya Pinkaew's fascination with martial arts cinema. The online forums that monitor and discuss the Asian film industry also had me somewhat prepared.
Chocolate offers some amazing fighting scenes and everything the film lacks in terms of substance the action manages to make up for with a bang. Obviously, you have to be willing to buy what the creators of Chocolate have to sell to agree with my observation, but if you've already seen or heard about Prachya Pinkaew's collaborations with Tony Jaa (Ong-bak, Tom yum goong) and have been intrigued by them, then there is no reason why you wouldn't like JeeJa Yanin's "acting".
Technically, Chocolate is an interesting hybrid of a film with very obvious influences. The finale, a massive and notably prolonged fighting scene, reveals clear parallels with Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill (2003). Here not only the stunts appear painfully familiar, but even the camera moves suggest that Kill Bill must have been a major source of inspiration. As I noted above, however, its narrative is far and away from being convincing.
The film's most problematic area is the editing. During the opening twenty or so minutes its pacing is so awkward that large blocks of the narrative come off as unusually long TV ads. The lack of chemistry between the main protagonists also exacerbates the rough areas in the script. As a result, it is hard to praise Chocolate for anything else other than its action.
I can only recommending Prachya Pinkaew's latest film to those of you who found a great deal of substance in his Ong Bak. The same formula is in place here and while the story isn't as intense and polished, the action certainly is. Furthermore, the fact that JeeJa Yanin and her partners managed to execute all of the film's mind-boggling stunts, some of them extremely painful to even look at let alone attempt to film, without resorting to any sort of contemporary wizardry is surely amazing. And for that alone, fans of the genre Chocolate belongs to must find time to see it.
Chocolate Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with VC-1, and granted a 1080p transfer Prachya Pinkaew's Chocolate arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.
The transfer for the US release of Chocolate looks practically identical to the one Showbox delivered in the UK. As far as I could tell, the only difference between the two is in the encoding (the UK version is encoded with MPEG-4 AVC). As expected, detail and clarity are mostly pleasing. The film's color-scheme also appears to be intact, and I most definitely did not detect any disturbing issues to report here. However, as I noted in my review for the UK release, each time green or yellow become the prevalent colors in Chocolate I was able to spot a bit of digital-noise (the most obvious examples of what I refer to above could be seen when the female protagonist enters the meat-packing plant as well as during the massive fight at the end of the film). This being said, the rest of the transfer provided by is notably healthy I did not detect any disturbing debris, scratches, or dirt. For the record, Chocolate does not appear to have been DNR-altered either. (Note This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc which you will be able to play on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Chocolate Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are four different audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1.
Similar to the UK Blu-ray release, the US Blu-ray release of Chocolate delivers a pleasing audio treatment. The Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does a terrific job of opening up the numerous action scenes in the film, and I think that you would definitely be impressed with it (a quick comparison between the Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and the Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 track reveals that there is far more depth in the former than there is in the latter). On the other hand, the dialog is crystal clear and very easy to follow. For the record, I did not detect any disturbing drop-outs, cracks, or hissing to report here either.
In addition to the two Thai tracks, Magnolia Pictures have also added up two dub tracks English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1. I did a few random comparisons between the Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and, as far as I am concerned, the basics (dynamics and rear-channel activity) seem identical. As far as the quality of the actual English dub is concerned, I think that it certainly isn't as appealing as the original Thai tracks are. Technically, however, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is certainly on par with the Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Finally, Magnolia Pictures have also supplied optional English and Spanish subtitles.
Chocolate Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Aside from a gallery of trailers for other Magnolia Pictures releases, on this Blu-ray there is also a standard Making Of featurette that focuses primarily on JeeJa Yanin's incredible athletic skills. In addition, Prachya Pinkaew explains how most of the key fighting scenes were shot.
Chocolate Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I must admit that Chocolate isn't a film that I would ever want to watch again. Its sizzling action is simply not something that I find particularly appealing. Yet, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't impressed with JeeJa Yanin. The young girl's fighting skills are unbelievable! Recommended.
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Chocolate Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Chocolate Coming to US for Valentine's Day - December 8, 2008
Magnolia Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the Prachya Pinkaew film 'Chocolate' to Blu-ray on February 10th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Technical specs have yet to be announced for this film, which comes from the same director who brought ...
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