Treasure of Mueang Lup Lae
Thailand 1990
Directed by วิสันต์ สันติสุชา.

A group of archeologist/explorers go in search of a treasure in Lup Lae, where legend has it that the Khmer Queen held court in ancient times. They are followed by thieves to hope to take it from them, then attacked by a vicious group of bandits, who are in turn frightened off by a group of Amazon women (they are the Khmer warrior women, of course, but if I call them Amazons everyone knows what I'm talking about). The women capture the explorers and bring them back to camp, where they argue about whether they should kill the men or let them go. The Amazon Queen finally decides to let them go, after consulting with the golden monkey god with the glowing eyes.

Thanks to the tremendous success of Tony Jaa and his new Thai martial arts films (ONG-BAK, BORN TO FIGHT, etc.), some attention is now being thrown to the man who trained him -- Panna Rittikrai (aka Punna Litkrai), the original Thai martial arts/stuntman spectacle. A bunch of his movies from the seventies and eighties are now out on VCD, badly cropped, without subtitles. This is one of them.

Panna plays one of the nice explorers -- the one who is always fighting. He spends most of his screen time getting punched, stabbed, and speared, though he does give as good as he gets. In the meantime, another of his party is falling in love with the amazon girl with the crossbow. Two of her fellow, spear-carrying amazons are not thrilled by this development.

Everything seems to be settling down when suddenly a group of well oiled musclemen wearing Hercules-style leather skirts burst in and kidnap the explorers. The amazon women come to their aid, and the musclemen and amazons form a temporary alliance. This is only natural, as both groups are same sex groups that likely had to enter the jungle to live in peace, free from persecution for their sexual preferences (of course, without subs, I can't be sure that part is really part of the plot. Perhaps I imagined that).

In the end, the bandits and thieves team up against the musclemen and amazons, with our expedition stuck in the middle. Most of the second disc of this two VCD movie is spent in one long melee, with some decent, but not exceptional, fight choreography. I found much of it to be almost the equal of Hong Kong action choreography from the seventies, though online research suggests this film is from 1990(!).

While the details of the plot are a bit tricky to follow without subs, overall the film is fairly comprehensible. And when the bad guys get a hold of the golden monkey, which looks a lot like Crow T. Robot from MST3K, and run around in the jungle with it while lasers shoot from its eyes making things explode, well, sometimes subtitles would only just get in the way.

[This title is not at that I could find, however it is available at under the title "Kumsap Muang Lublae". The English title above is my own translation. It is only available on VCD, not DVD. I apologize for the erroneous link, which I would correct, however, it is the only way I can leave the cover image up, which I'd like to do because Thai romanization is never consistent and it would be difficult to find the movie based on the title alone.]

Rating: Marginally Recommended (Marginally Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on March 08, 2006.

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