Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In short: Battle Warrior (1996)

aka Mission Hunter 2

A Thai archeologist/explorer has crossed the border to (what I suppose is) Laos to find an ancient artifact known as the Golden Stone hidden away somewhere in the jungle. He is captured by the local warlord General Jang who is biding his time smuggling heroin and doing various other dastardly deeds until he has gathered enough funds to establish a reign of terror in the whole of South-East Asia.

Jang would really like to know where the Golden Stone is hidden, but even after a year of torture, the scientist isn't telling, causing much blustering and evil laughter in the hairless general, a man obviously compensating for his hair loss by being very evil indeed.

But a photo of her father's plight and knowledge of his location have found its way into the hands of the explorer's daughter Vicky. She hires the friendly mercenary Captain Pratuang (possibly played by Chatchai Ruksilp) and his men to attack Jang's base and get her father back. Also part of the rescue mission will be a British journalist named Smith who wants to save one of his colleagues from Jang. Like all British journalists, he is a hulking colossus of a bodybuilder with an awesome moustache and much love for snarling while shooting automatic weapons. Add to this the group's native guide and awesome martial artist Arsu (Internet, please tell me what this actor's name is) and you have quite a merry little band.

Everyone's expertise will be needed, too, because before our heroes can even get to their actual enemy they will have to cope with the unfriendly tribe of the Black Goblins (obviously, people without much clothes wearing badly applied blackface and "tribal" make-up) and Jang's secret weapon - the Forest Immortals.

We'll only get to see one member of the latter group, but since this member is Panna Rittikrai repeating his Spirited Warrior martial arts zombie bit, that shouldn't be a problem.

Mission Hunter 2 is marketed in the West like your typical piece of Jaasploitation, which means that it is presented here as a film starring Tony Jaa, although it was produced before the actor's sudden (and deserved) fame and so Jaa is in fact only playing henchman number one in it. If you can get over this and don't expect Ong Bak 0, you get a typical jungle action flick containing all the usual ingredients, from the racially offensive tribe to people jumping away from exploding huts.

There's no dramatic need for much of anything that happens in the movie, its pacing is in fact rather slow. It would probably be more coherent without the silly-but-fun zombie bit, yet it is a perfectly watchable example of its type.

If you go into it looking for a basic and cheap piece of jungle action, you will probably have your fun, at least with its little bonus features like the very obviously stolen and highly melodramatic (often for no good reason) musical score, the very tasteless scene where Jang threatens the explorer with the mass rape of his daughter while his men are already lining up for it in single file (the difference to comparable movies from Hong Kong or Italy would be that no rape is happening after the explorer caves in) and some rather good jumping and fighting by the guy who plays Arsu.

I certainly did have a good time with it.


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