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This Girl Is Badass(2011)
Taekwondo master Jeeja Yanin takes her skills to the next level as a bike messenger hired by competing mob bosses to smuggle goods. Caught in the middle and given an ultimatum, the only way out is a confrontation erupting into a battle of bullets, face kicks, and blows.
For more about This Girl Is Badass and the This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray release, see This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on May 23, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: JeeJa Yanin, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Akom Preedakul
Director: Petchtai Wongkamlao
» See full cast & crew
This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray Review
Is this movie badass, or ass bad?
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, May 23, 2013
Discovered by Ong-Bak director Prachya Pinkaew—who molded her in Chocolate and The Kick into a high-flying, female equivalent of Tony Jaa—Yanin "Jeeja" Vismitananda is indeed a badass. She has a third-degree black belt in taekwondo. She has a sense of balance that rivals that of a street cat. She's a pint-sized 5'2", but you wouldn't want to cross her in a dark alley, especially not one littered with pipes and broken bottles and other urban detritus she'd inevitably use against you whilst flip-kicking off the walls. If you've seen any of her previous films, you know she's capable of incredible physical feats. And perhaps that's what you're expecting from This Girl is Badass—a barrage of jaw-dropping, high-intensity action sequences where Jeeja gets to show off her impossible moves.
If so, you'll probably be more than a little disappointed. There are some prolonged fight scenes here, but not only are they few and far between, they're also choreographed in a ho-hum, far from innovative style. Although the movie is an action-comedy, there's far more of the latter than the former, and not much of it is very funny. The film was clearly made with a Thai audience in mind, so—to Westerner viewers—there's definitely something lost in the translation of the non-stop jokes and one-liners. What's left is a parade of goofy sight-gags, over-the-top character tics, and ridiculous costuming.
Jeeja is hammy as Jukkalan, a tomboyish Bangkok bike messenger and orphan who lives with her uncle, Wang, a video store owner played by the film's director, famous Thai comedian Petchtai Wongkamlao. (Whom you might recognize as Tony Jaa's pal in Ong-Bak or the lead in The Bodyguard and its sequel. I'd say he's in a good two-thirds of the Thai movies exported to the West in the past decade.) While most bike messengers ferry legal documents, Jukkalan's work is a bit more dodgy; she's essentially a drug and/or money mule for two rival mobsters, Boss Seng —who has a weirdly high-pitched voice—and Boss Piak (Anek Intajan), who employs a haram of sexy female assassins to do his bidding, and has a gimp in what looks like a head-to-toe sweatsuit for a best friend.
I'll give Thai movies this—their villains are always memorable, at least. They aren't the only ones who stand out as absurd; Jukkalan's employer (Kom Chuanchuen) is a fashion victim with twirling eyebrows and a Hitler mustache who rides around nearly naked on what I can only describe as a glorified, mobile rocking horse. (You really have to see it to understand it.) There's also Duan (Akhom Pridakun), an "ugly" boy with jacked-up teeth who wears white pants, pastel shirts, and a bow-tie—with a purple sweater draped around his shoulders—and who's desperately in love with the unreciprocating Jukkalan. She's only got eyes for her rockstar next-door neighbor, who himself can't return her love because he's more fond of "elephant fighting." I'll let you figure out what that means, but let's just say it has something to do with his "trunk."
The film's plot is exceedingly simple, but complicated and padded with lots of melodramatic and "comedic" filler. Unbeknownst to her boss, Jukkalan has been skimming cash and drugs from the packages she's meant to deliver—she's trying to save up to travel the world—and when the two gangsters find out, they each send their foot-soldiers out to beat her up and get back the goods. This, of course, doesn't end well for them. There are four main fight scenes in the film, and if you've ever seen a Thai martial arts movie before, you may as well have already seen this one. Aside from Jeeja using her fixie as a weapon—which is pretty badass—there's not much new here. The coolest fight—a brawl in the bike shop—has Jukkalan frisbee-ing gears like throwing stars, roping baddies with deflated tires, and using lug-nuts on her fingers as brass knuckles. The others are strictly routine. A showdown in the rain is shot in tedious slow-motion, and the overlong taekwondo-meets-gunplay finale goes down in a warehouse filled with pottery, for seemingly no other reason than to have something for the combatants to break. You've seen better.
The action scenes aren't nearly enough to carry the movie. The entire middle stretch of the film is devoted to the characters' various interpersonal crises, which just aren't very interesting. Shy Uncle Wang can't work up the nerve to woo his next-door neighbor, but shows his love by protecting her from the loan sharks set to shut down her laundromat. Duan follows Jukkalan around like a dejected puppy. There's even a whole sequence where Jukkalan teaches the boy she likes how to make pumpkin soup. The drama is all played broadly—hokey, theatrical—and most of the comedy is just as obvious, going for the big, dumb, easy laughs. Some of it, though, is incomprehensibly odd, and the subtitles aren't much help. This is the first time I've ever heard "cat bowel" used as an insult, and probably the last, as I doubt I'll ever feel the need to watch This Girl is Badass again.
This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray, Video Quality
In general, This Girl Is Badass looks more like a low-budget TV show than a feature film. I haven't been able to confirm any technical specifications, but This Girl is Badass seems to have been shot on lower-end professional digital HD gear, since many of the usual flaws of that class of cameras is noticeable here. Highlights frequently blow out, bright colors and skin tones sometimes seem pale or out of balance, and aliasing often affects fine parallel lines. (See the scene where Jukkalan is rifling through files at the bike shop office.) Wide shots have a tendency to go soft, but closeups do reveal a good bit of fine detail, with visible textures in faces and clothing. While the color grading is a little wonky at times—with occasional white balance issues and inconsistent contrast—there's not much that Magnolia could've done about that. For their part, the encode looks fairly solid, with no obvious compression problems or other issues that aren't inherent in the source.
This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Magnolia has given us two audio options here, the original Thai mix and an English dub, both in the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 codec, and both practically indiscernible—in volume, clarity, and immersiveness—apart from the dialogue. Normally I shy away from dubs, but this one's fun in a so-bad- it's-good sort of way, especially anytime the two gangster villains speak up. Still, the Thai track is probably the one to choose. The mix is fairly standard for this kind of film, with exaggerated sound effects—huge body blows, explosive gunshots, heavy footfalls—and a modicum of rear channel ambience, like wind and street sounds and room acoustics. Voices can sometimes sound a little low in the mix, but never to the extent of being incomprehensible. Everything is clear and punchy, with no peaking or other obvious mixing problems. Music is the loudest element of the track, a blaring melange of break- beats and generic crunchy guitar riffs for the action sequences, while other, more-subdued cues go for "whimsy" and "romance" to accentuate the appropriate tone of each scene. The disc includes optional English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles, which appear in easy-to-read yellow lettering.
This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Girl Is Badass Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A not-so-funny comedy first and an action movie second, This Girl is Badass will come as a disappointment to those hoping for another Chocolate. Although star Yanin "Jeeja" Vismitananda has at least one kick-ass, visually interesting fight scene, the few others in the film are your usual assortment of warehouse brawls and rainy night slo-mo showdowns. You've seen it all before. This might've been okay if the comedic angle was better, but the humor here is simultaneously too broad and too lost in translation obscure to generate many laughs. Most audiences will be bored or worse, leaving This Girl is Badass for the hardcore Thai martial arts enthusiasts who will see anything starring Jeeja. You know who you are.
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