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Chai Lai Angels
Dir: Poj Arnon
Star: Jintara Poonlarp, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Supakson Chaimongkol, Kessarin Ektawatkul
Brief: If you only watch one Thai Charlie's Angels knock-off this year...

66% extra free! That's the major difference here, as five, rather than three, little girls, who get their orders from an unseen "boss" and his faux Bosley, take on a variety of disguises and kick butt, in between romantic dalliances. Of course, with a budget approximately one-eightieth of the Hollywood version, certain economies have to be expected. But there are unexpected bonuses in the lunatic invention department, such as the when the villainous henchmen drops a cage, out of nowhere, onto four of our Angels, only for the fifth to come to their rescue, for no apparent reason either, in a tank. At moments like this, you can only laugh with the film.

The plot is a nonsensical as ever. They are assigned to protect little girl Miki, who knows the location of a pearl worth billions of bahts, which also maintains the balance of the oceans [See! It's a film with an importan message!]. When they fail to do so, they then have to rescue her from the evil Dragon, who intends to sell off the pearl to the highest bidder. He has an army of bumling minions, the main one of whom is a thoroughly unconvincing transvestite, assisted by a cross-eyed underling whose aim poses more of a threat to anyone but the target. Yeah, the humour goes for all the difficult targets. It's probably funnier to a Thai audience: one senses from the comic timing there are pauses for laughs where no Western audience will find any.

The action is plentiful, if occasionally wobbly. Ektawatkul, as Pouy-sian (Crown of Thorns), comes across best, as you'd expect from an actual Tae Kwon Do champion, but also doing her own stunts in a car-chase sequence. I did appreciate the editing, which manages to keep things coherent even when there are four or five separate fights going on - The Expendables could learn a lot there. Miki might have the best wire-assisted kung-fu moves; she's a bit like Hit Girl without the swearing. There's also a fight scene where the Angels are wearing towels, though this is strictly PG-rated. Like the rest of the film it's harmless but entertaining fluff, at its best when it parodies the conventions of the genre, e.g. when one of the Angels only fires her gun in ridiculous poses, such as through her legs. While not quite enough to become Undercover Brother, it passes the time painlessly enough.

[June 2011]

See also...
  • Charlie's Angels
  • Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle
  • Crazy Girls Undercover
  • Ninja Cheerleaders
  • The Vanquisher

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