Set right before the fall of Thailand's old capital, Ayuttaya, Bang Rajan draws on the legend of a village of fighters who bravely fended off the Burmese armies. With no support from the Royal army, the villagers drives the invading Burmese away many times until their names have become legendary during the time. As each subsequent battles becomes fiercer, the villagers tries to forge a canon to battle the enemy in a final battle where everyone, women and children included, die in combat.
|Release Date||:||December 29, 2000|
|Genres||:||Action, History, War|
|Production Co.||:||Film Bangkok, BEC-TERO Entertainment|
|Director||:||Tanit Jitnukul, Sakchai Seebunnak|
|Writers||:||Tanit Jitnukul, Kongkiat Khomsiri, Patikarn Phejmunee, Bunthin Thuaykaew|
|Casts||:||Jaran Ngamdee, Winai Kraibutr, Theerayut Pratyabamrung, Bin Bunluerit, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Chumphorn Thepphithak, Suntharee Maila-or, Phisate Sangsuwan, Theeranit Damrongwinijchai, Nuntapon Kamutavanit, Surachet Lorsungnem, Jarin Phomrangsai, Phutharit Prombandal, Nirut Saosudchart, Voraphark Sarobon, Krit Suwannapaph, Atthakorn Suwannaraj, Somchat Ubon|
|Plot Keywords||:||monk, resistance, river, general, gun, dream, massachusetts, sword, wound, leader, cannon, thailand, rice, village, burma, army, death of a child, sword fight, battlefield, decapitation, blood, impalement, severed head, atrocity, pregnancy, massacre, explosion, battle, throat slitting, alcoholic, death, shot in the forehead, dismemberment, axe murder, bestiality, dead children, harvest, warrior, siam, villager, axe, ayutthaya, mass hanging, water buffalo|
Bang Rajan Reviews
- Slightly messy but dramatic and gory epicby 28 February 2005on
23 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
I've been wanting to see BANG RAJAN for a good three years - and in this age of dvds and internets it's not often I have to wait that long to see something, but life seemed unwilling to give this film a readily available release with English subtitles. Finally, though, after sitting on the title for 2 years and almost missing out on first-to-market to Oliver Stone in the US, HKL spin-off Premier Asia got round to releasing it - in a 2-disc special edition with numerous interviews for extras, no less.
BANG RAJAN was a landmark for the Thai film industry, a blockbuster hit that helped to create the recent surge in film production and production values. It tells the true story of a village called Bang Rajan, whose people stood their ground and managed to fight off the northern flank of an invading army from Burma in 1765. Without their bravery, Thailand might just be a province of Burma right now. Bang Rajan wasn't exactly a small village as it turns out, but they were far from a trained army, and were still vastly outnumbered by the invaders. How they managed to hold them off for so long is still a bit of a mystery.
As far as I'm aware, there had never been a film made on as large a scale as this in Thailand before - though Tan Mui would have been well into pre-production on Suriyothai when BR was made. Director Tanit Jitnukul seems to be specialising in historical epics a bit, and has made several more since - including the very enjoyable KHUNSUK, which reunites many of the cast members from BANG RAJAN, but weaves a more personal story into the tapestry of the wars and times. BANG RAJAN wants to tell the story of the village, rather than any single individual - though about half a dozen characters are picked out to receive the main focus of the story, or to represent the village as a whole I guess. The director's story-telling skills aren't quite up to the task of weaving together these threads into a coherent picture, but you do get to care somewhat for the characters eventually. The main aim of the film is to show the heroism and predicament of a whole village of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances, forced to fight to protect their families and their country. In most war films the fighters are soldiers, and their battles are pretty much divorced from their everyday lives (photos of girlfriends back home etc aside), the villagers of BANG RAJAN are caught up in a war that they just happen to be stood in the way of.
What makes BANG RAJAN into a war film, though, are the battle scenes - of which there are many, of a surprising scale and brutality. There's a lot of serious injury, and the sound of flesh being sliced, pierced or lopped off is sometimes relentless. The level and realism of the gore in the film is very high - possibly even higher than Korea's MUSA, almost as if the opening scene of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN had been filmed with machetes, axes, hammers, spears and arrows. And still with guns and cannons too, for that matter. The Premier Asia set includes a very nice interview with the producer of the film, where he explains that he knows they can't achieve the degree of "perfection" in battle scenes that Hollywood films can because of their higher budget, but he hopes that the film does at least stand up to international scrutiny in terms of realism. Apart from a few dodgy CGI explosions, I'd say it certainly does.
I wish that BANG RAJAN had got a wide release right after it was made, as it would probably have been pretty successful. 5 years later, it's thunder has been somewhat stolen by other films like MUSA, SURIYOTHAI, HERO, WARRIORS OF HEAVEN & EARTH and THE LAST SAMURAI. Compared to these, BR must be judged inferior (well, except for Suriyothai, which was more expensive looking but a less captivating film). The story-telling isn't too tight and most of the acting is unimpressive. It is film-making on a grand scale though, with impressively high production values for its budget (far lower than any of the other films mentioned) and a visceral impact that still stands up. Compared to MUSA it might look a little amateurish, but you have to remember there was no MUSA to compare it to when it came out. I don't suppose BANG RAJAN had much if any influence on those other historical epics that have followed it, since it was probably not seen far outside Thailand, but at least its impact on the Thai film industry must be taken as a credit.
Viewed in 2005 it's unlikely to be a life-changing film for anyone, but it's still definitely worth a watch - and I hope that it will sell well enough for Premier Asia to take a few more risks on releasing lesser-known films that don't already have good subtitled releases elsewhere.
- impressive movie even though I can't understand a word Thai and watched it unsubtitledby 9 September 2003on
18 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
I lent this on VCD from a friend of mine and I was impressed. I watched a non-subtitled thai version and I don't understand a word thai.
this movie re-accounts the struggle of a small village against one of 2 burmese invasion armies and holds out for about 5 months -against all odds.
I was pleasantly surprized to find a thrilling action movie without too much sentiments, but just enough to not all hack & slash and not to much to become hollywoodish overly dramatic to the very annoying level of fase-turn-off-the-dvd-player (like Peal Harbour). The comparison with braveheart is easlily made -since this movie has one of the last mass-armies scenes that is not computer enhanced (like 10 soldiers digitally multiplied by 1000)Which is a very impressive scene
There are a few flaws. I thought the fight scenes a filmed a bit messy. It does creatw a feeling of the chaos that is melee, but unfortunately, if one can't tell one villager from another -the all look a-like, which makes the action scene little difficult to follow(compare Black Hawk Down where all were mostly caucasian and had short trimmed hair, underneath the identical helmet all wore in combination with the same desertpaterned uniforms). Concerning the main characters, this problem is solved by giving one a babyface, another a mowhawk hairsyle and british-like moustache and another a beard etc. The more you watch the the less this problem becomes The other flaw are the special effects, these are really bad. BUT I must say that didn't annoy me.
The story is easy to follow, even the flashbacks are easily spotted. The acting is good (for me I watched bodylanguage, facial expressions and intonation of voice, what else can you do when you don't understand the language) The actionscenes are very impreessive especially those with lots and lots of people fighting. The music is great as well, maybe no John Williams, but more than adequate enough to accompany any feeling a scene should return, whether it's a gentle look between 2lovers or an all out end battle
Great movie -I'm still impressed!
- Exciting, full-blooded war film based on legend.by 21 June 2001on
18 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
Exciting, full-blooded account of a small village in Siam that held off a far greater force of Burmese for 8 attacks. It may be formulaic at times, but the actors and film makers obviously believe in what they are doing, and the result is some of the most thrilling & simultaneously horrifying battle sequences in some time. The characters are broadly drawn (the stuff of legend). The actors and scenery are very photogenic. The score, filled with pounding drums, is incredible.
- Thank God for moustaches and beards!by 15 July 2002on
17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
This movie was just released on video in Denmark, and I persuaded a friend to watch it with me. He thanked me afterwards! This is a great movie, and the battles are just INCREDIBLE. You can only compare it to Braveheart, but this movie avoids being as over-the-top romantic.
The only problem is that the people are a little hard to tell from each other (wow, do I sound like a racist!). We have a hero with a big moustache. A drunk with a beard. A guy who is younger than everybody else. And thats about it. The rest of the men look like each other with the same haircuts and facial hair. And the names being so different from western names makes it harder to follow. Luckily, it doesn't really matter who of the men did what. This is a film to watch for its fighting scenes.
If you liked the fighting in Braveheart, you just have to see this. I believe the budget was smaller for this one, but the battle scenes are very convincing. You have to see it for yourself. Actually I think this movie is better than Braveheart, even though I liked that a lot!
- An engrossing Eastern war epicby 1 September 2006on
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Thailand is fast making a name for itself in the International film market thanks to the success of a certain Mr Jaa in a film called Ong Bak. If you are reading this review, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever that you will know exactly what I'm on about and will be nodding your head in agreement, smiling to yourself as you recall the head-splintering chaos that that martial arts thrill ride provided us with but despite all it's successes, Ong Bak really was quite a low budget feature and it's limitations were plain to see. Bang Rajan however is an entirely different kettle of fish. It is not another martial arts movie but a war film set in the 18th century and having been made several years previously, was Thailand's first major attempt to secure its reputation as a movie-making rival to the likes of Hollywood and Hong Kong. And unlike the Tony Jaa star vehicle, it has the budget behind it to stand toe-to-toe with any of its rivals.
Set just before the fall of Thailand's old capital city Ayuttaya to the invading Burmese army, the film tells the story of the people of Bang Rajan, a large village that despite insurmountable odds stood up to the approaching horde. With legions of soldiers marching on their doors, the untrained, poorly equipped and vastly outnumbered villagers still managed to give the Burmese a brutal lesson in Thai hospitality and their story has become a popular example of patriotism in their home country, so needless to say the transition to screen makes for a rip-roaring war film.
To this end, director Tanit Jitnukul resists the urge to focus on solitary figures and instead concentrates on a small number of characters from various backgrounds to represent the Bang Rajan community. There's Taen; the elderly leader who is injured early on in the running time but still manages to be a significant player in the proceedings, Chan; the jungle warrior who succeeds Taen and becomes the figurehead of their resistance, Inn; a younger warrior who fights to defend his newly pregnant wife, Taeng-Onn; the village drunk whose slovenliness masks the highly-skilled axe man lurking within him and numerous other characters who all get plenty of scope, illustrating that it is not just the warriors who are effected by battle but the wives, priests, elderly and children as well. This is one of the film's strongest points and allows it to illustrate a whole patchwork of emotions and situations affected by the chaos. And it is difficult to pick a highlight because no actor ever really outshines any of the rest, you come to care about all of them and when the deaths inevitably occur, some are very sad to behold.
But of course, emotional depth is one thing but what everybody really comes to Bang Rajan for is fighting and boy does it deliver. The opening ruck sets the tone instantly as the two opposing armies clash in the middle of a muddy field that soon becomes a mass of flailing limbs and blood-drenched bodies that is all watched by a steadicam that rolls and pivots with the warriors as muddy water splashes the lens. It may be a lesson in camera-work lifted straight from Saving Private Ryan but nonetheless, it is highly effective in taking you right into the heart of the maelstrom. Later skirmishes in the jungle lose none of the brutality as axes and swords are used in ever-more inventive ways to destroy human bodies and the whole thing climaxes in glorious fashion in the jaw dropping final battle. The last Burmese assault flings itself upon the walls of Bang Rajan, cannon fire erupting all around, blowing apart people and buildings as the people we've known for the last two hours contort and die in a hideous barrage of limb-chopping insanity.
As far as action goes then, Bang Rajan is definitely an impressive romp and as an Eastern alternative to the bloated, over-stylised likes of Alexander or Troy, it is the far superior choice. Provided you are confident in your sexuality enough to put up with the sight of around two hundred half-naked men getting covered in mud and sweat for two hours, you'll find a good-old fashioned war story with a great big ruck at the end.
- Thai Braveheart!by 23 May 2006on
7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Thailand is not the place people would expect to see high quality movies made. Though over the last couple of years some very interesting films have surfaced. This is yet another.
This is a biographical tale of a village called Bang Rajan. During the Burmese invasion of Siam (Thailand) in the late 1700's this village played a pivotal part in the war against the invaders.
The movie starts out quite below par with a rather cheesy battle scene. Though stick with it, as the film becomes very engrossing shortly after. You get to meet the characters of the film and witness their struggle against the cruel Burmese. The film is about honor and bravery against even the worst of odds.
There may be qualms about the acting as most of the cast seem to be amateurs, though this does not detract from the film rather than actually heighten the reality. Some of the special effects are cheap, though the action is great to watch.
I give this 8 out of 10 and highly recommend it to lovers of pre-1900's war movies and Asian Cinema buffs!
- Brave Heart in Spiritby 23 June 2006on
5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I have to say I enjoyed the film even though I am one of those 'Evil Burmese' :). I am a big fan of Asian cinema being originally from the region. I am happy for the Thais for their world class cinematography and western style action films. Bang Rajan is truly a good action film. One which gets you in the spirit of their struggle and determination to fight off invading foes. However it is a dramatised, one sided, modern day 'propaganda' film. Comparisons to Brave Heart I understand. Like Brave Heart this would have inflamed past bitterness towards the neighbouring country men (and women). May have even resulted in some public disturbance and crime. Film makers should be more responsible in what they make as films do influence the way people think. I have seen this with many historical genres in films such as 'American Indian Wars' , 'The Vietnam War', 'WWI and WWII' etc. Where film makers start off with seeing the other side as the complete epitome of savagery and evil, but later films view them as humans as well. I hope that some Scots and Thais rise up from their past bitterness and see that the people who oppressed them are humans too and things have moved on since those medieval times.
The action here is relentless and blood-thirsty. It does not glorify war. You will see war as it is. Crime against humanity with civilian loss and suffering and not the televised clean stikes against enemy targets like some computer game that you see today .The characterisation is however lacking. If the director had spent a little more time for the audience to get to know the main characters better the overall impact of their courage and sacrifice would have been greater.
Where Brave Heart is a drama set in the background of the Scottish struggle against the English Occupiers, Bang Rajan is a merely an action film about Thai villagers bravely defending their homeland and died free against a much larger superior Burmese invading force. Ordinary Thai citizens stood their ground while the proper Thai armies ran away without even protecting their own Capitol Ciy. Ony if they had such courage as these ordinary folks. A little reminiscent of the Alamo or The Seven Samurais as someone said but not as well polished.
- An impressive Thai war film with a heart.by 25 January 2007on
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Siam, 1765: All that stands between the Burmese army and the city of Ayutthaya is the village of Bang Rajan, which refuses to surrender to the might of the savage invaders. The brave village warriors of Bang Rajan successfully repel the attackers time after time, but with their numbers dwindling and their leader injured, they must look to others to help them defeat their foe. Employing the help of the impressively mustachioed Chan and his jungle fighters, can the people of Bang Rajan survive one final attack by the Burmese imperial forces? Well, no they can't, but they give it a damn good try!
This epic movie from Thailand is a stunning and captivating tale of the indomitable spirit of man (and woman) in the face of adversity. Despite being vastly outnumbered, the courageous villagers of Bang Rajan, facing certain death, continued to fight rather than be taken as slaves; this movie celebrates their bravery and ultimate sacrifice.
Between the impressively vicious battle scenes, we get to know and admire the memorable individuals that battle so hard to protect what is theirs, and the likable cast portray these 'heroes' convincingly, making us care about their plight. And the bad guys are just as impressive, sneering evilly as they string up innocent victims and march into war carrying their enemies' severed heads on sharpened poles.
The early battles, although action-packed, tend to imply the violence rather than ladle on the gore, although, as the film progresses, the bloodletting becomes increasingly graphic. By the end of the movie, body parts are flying all over the place! Occasionally director Tanit Jitnukul gets out of his depth trying to weave complex personal drama with epic battle scenes, but, on the whole, he does an impressive job. The film looks great and there are plenty of moments that will stay in your memory after the end credits have rolled.
A deserved winner of 11 top accolades at Thai film awards, Bang Rajan should be seen by any fan of war movies, and those who love Asian cinema.
- Great movie with lots of action packed scenesby 19 October 2006on
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Bang Rajan is a gripping account of Thai villagers who fight against an imposing army that has them outnumbered and outgunned. Action scenes are great and the story itself has you following it to the very end. If you are a fan of foreign films or war movies, then this is a must see. The characters are great and so are the actors that play them. Even though most of the dialogue is in subtitles, it takes absolutely nothing away from this visual movie. The women used in this movie are beautiful and the men and children look very much like the Thai villagers of the period portrayed. The setting of this movie is pleasant and the fight scenes are realistic. Don't miss this one!
- Strength of character...by 20 February 2006on
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
***SPOILERS*** Satisfying in much the same way that Akira Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI is satisfying (the way BRAVEHEART is satisfying; the way THE 13TH WARRIOR is satisfying, on many levels at once), BANG RAJAN is must-see fare that tugs the old heart strings by way of the battlefield. That it's based on historic heroics only makes it that much more compelling. Any artistic license taken can be readily forgiven: the end justifies the means. It also seems appropriate that Oliver Stone should be in some way responsible for this one finding a wider audience via video; if anyone can relate to a PLATOON of warriors waging jungle warfare, it's Stone. This is the kind of action film we need more of: one from the heart.
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