Werewolf in Bangkok
Thailand 2005
Directed by Wirote Thongchlew.

Frank (Nong Cha Cha Cha) is a garbage scavenger who lives with his adopted street-urchin daughter Lilly (Natnicha Cherdchoobupakaree). One day, while on the run from the scavenger "digging-up" gang (whose symbol is sort of a smiley face with shades and a mohawk), they take shelter in a spooky old mansion owned by a werewolf, who bites Frank. Afterwards, when the moon is only half full, Frank turns into a mangy, ugly, half-werewolf mutt, and soon is on the run from the gang, the werewolf from the mansion, and a pair of lethal werewolf hunters.

Played mostly for laughs, WEREWOLF IN BANGKOK has some humor, decent special effects, and a generally sweet nature, especially when the relationship between Lilly and Frank takes center focus. Frank's love interest Cheechee (Debbie Bazoo) is underdeveloped. Her primary character trait seems to be her exposed belly button, which, come to think of it, is nothing to complain about.

Nong Cha Cha Cha is a comedian in the same mold as loud, fat, goofy comedians the world over. But in truth, he isn't particularly obnoxious here and manages to be pretty grounded in his role, even when behaving in the most silly manner possible. Of course he doesn't turn into a scary werewolf, he turns into a goofy one, and leading up to his transformation he starts to behave like a dog, peeing on all sorts of things (including CheeChee), and at one (low) point, engages in a little bestiality with a dog (not visibly, thankfully, but with sound effects). His transformation ends up being a musical number, with a house rhythm and barking dogs as the accent to the beat.

The werewolf hunters are not particularly engaging, though they open and close the film, scarcely matter in the middle. One hunter is determined to kill the werewolf that bit his pregnant wife, and use his heart to cure her. He mistakes Frank for the werewolf that did it, but this potentially lethal case of mistaken identity never builds any dramatic tension.

The "digging-up" gang, meanwhile, commands a lot of screen time themselves, from their evil leader, to his henchmen Dum and Daeng, to the gang's accountant, a frightfully ugly, toothless old man. That much of the humor in these scenes is derived from everyone telling the old man how ugly he is, gets a little uncomfortable after a while, but he is an unbelievably odd looking man, without a doubt. Dum and Daeng start out as your typical henchmen, planning to rough up Frank, but warm up a plan to kidnap Lilly goes badly (they fall for the little girl, just like everyone else).

WEREWOLF IN BANGKOK is most entertaining during the lead up to Frank's first transformation. But toward the end, werewolf fights and chases take center stage and it becomes increasingly hard to stay involved. The script starts strong but loses direction pretty quickly. The opening of the film adds nicely to werewolf lore, however, with a comic-book explanation for the presence of werewolves in Thailand: In1004AD the King of Greece infuriated Zeus by worshopping him using wolf flesh, he was turned into a werewolf, then during a war infected many people, who eventually headed into Siam as traders. The introduction also mentions that Zeus reincarnates on earth to exterminate them, but this is never followed up on. Perhaps Frank is Zeus? More likely this element was just forgotten in the rush.

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on February 19, 2006.

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