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Brave (2005)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fearlessness will be required if you are to attempt to watch Brave, an action-comedy starring Thai stuntman Mike B. and Malaysian comedian Afdlin Shauki.

Shaky, handheld camera work and fast-motion film speeds obscure the gritty stuntwork being performed by Mike B., an action film veteran who has worked as a stunt double and choreographer. He performs some acrobatic, hard-hitting feats, and has a cheeky charm that could go a long way with better production values.

Poor dubbing in the Thai release is another distraction. Particularly bad is the looping of Malaysian co-star and co-director Afdlin, who is paired up with a voice-over artist that proves to be annoying match.

The film opens with Mike B., wearing a suit-and-tie, spectacles and Converse All-Stars, going to an office building, ostensibly to apply for a job. But speaking to him through his Bluetooth headset is someone giving him instructions. He's supposed to get some data from a credit card company in the building. After bluffing his way past the guards, he calls in some orders for pizza and chicken delivery while riding the elevator. These will later serve as diversions. He then launches into his first fight scene, laying waste to an office full of workers, who all must be taking advantage of the company gym. A couple of female receptionists even know taekwondo!

So far so good. He eventually makes his way into the head office, grabs the executive, Lita (Supaksorn Chaimongkol) and copies the data to a USB rubber wristband. He then eludes the security guards and police.

The whole thing is a set-up. Bee, as he's called, has been forced into stealing the data in order to free his brother or cousin or friend (it's never really clear what the relationship is), played by Afdlin. The rotund comic is suspended on a rope, tied to some oxygen cylinders, with bomb strapped to him. After a bit of motorcycle stuntwork, Bee makes a big leap to latch on to his friend, only to find Tong has wet his pants. The moisture is causing the bomb's timer to short circuit. And there are more pee-based jokes to come. Anyway, the guys get out of it.

From there, it is difficult to stay involved with what is going on or why things are happening the way they are, though through the shaky camerawork and editing there are enough visual flourishes from Mike B. to occasionally make things interesting. In one of the most dramatic scenes, he appears to leap off the top floor of an unfinished hi-rise, grab a piece of reinforcment bar and swing onto the floor below.

A bad guy named Kovit (Sahaschai Chumrum) appears to be the mastermind behind the scheme, and he sends a never-ending stream of various thugs after Bee. Among them are limber stuntman Dean Alexandrou as a former friend of Bee, who performs a great backflip over Bee in a setpiece on a fishing boat. Boxer Don Ferguson chips in, in a longer fight sequence towards the end.

Mike B and Afdlin share an easy chemistry, but whether it truly works or not is difficult to determine, because of the horrible dubbing.

Shining through the proceeds is actress Supaksorn "Kratae" Chaimongkol, whose character, the credit card exec Lita, goes through the full range of emotions. For all the physical acrobatics of Mike B., Supsakorn's character has as many ups and downs, contributing to a decent twist in what passes for the plot.


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