Updated: Sep 17, 2020
"Chocolate" (2008) directed by Prachya Pinkaew
"An autistic girl with powerful martial art skills looks to settle her ailing mother's debts by seeking out the ruthless gangs that owe her family money."
You might like this if you like: Muay Thai, Martial Arts, Tony Jaa (basically the female Tony Jaa), Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003, same Director), The Protector (2005, same Director/presented by Quentin Tarantino), female lead action films, female lead martial arts films, The Raid: Redemption (2011)
What did I just watch? That was insane.... nothing like I’d ever seen before in a martial arts film and I live on a pretty heavy f*ckin diet of martial arts movies... Thank you, Quentin Tarantino for introducing me to this incredible movie. “Chocolate” was among his favorite films of 2009 (even though it should’ve been in his 2008 list). But also being a fan of the other Muay Thai films which Prachya Pinkaew made and being a Tony Jaa fan I knew I’d have eventually found this treasure on my own.
Normally I don’t try and watch trailers for films that are already out and that I can watch immediately, but I happened to watch the trailer for this one and it certainly got me excited. Now, just because of how unique to me this film was to its mother-genre, I would like to acknowledge some of the plot/themes they touched on. It doesn’t give a bunch away, I just really appreciated that this young girl was fighting to pay for her mother’s chemo/cancer bills.. I appreciated that autism was represented in this film in a really empowering way and being incorporated INTO the martial arts was fascinating to me.
Jeeja Yanin in "Chocolate" (2008)
On top of that, you get a kick ass girl (Jeeja Yanin) for the lead kicking all these men’s (some women’s too) asses and this film came out in 2008.. but hey, nobody talks about these movies so it’s like they were never made and then we complain there aren’t enough female lead action films. Well here you go to the f*cking max.. if you are into female martial artists like Michelle Yeoh, Meiko Kaji, Cynthia Khan, Cheng Pei Pei- you know what.. no. Let’s not limit it to female only.. JEEJA YANIN is up there with ALL THE GREATS like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Tony Jaa, Donnie Yen, Jet Li and Iko Uwais. She’s just as damn good as any. So if you like martial arts, I think frankly, you have no excuse NOT to like this movie.
I just wanna note that it’s sad to me Michelle Yeoh is the closest to a mainstream female martial artist that I can even have a conversation with someone about.. and that in itself is rare. We need to talk more about these awesome women. I’ve never had the pleasure of talking to anyone who knows who Meiko Kaji is or Cynthia Khan.. It’s always Bruce, Jet and Jackie. The male trio. The female martial artists EXIST. They are there. It’s just not what theaters show or what the mainstream seems to want. If you want it you gotta take the time to look because there are gems like these all throughout cinema’s past.
Michelle Yeoh in "Wing Chun" (1994)
This was JEEJA YANIN’s FIRST FILM.. Acting and performance wise and everything else.. outstanding. Left me wanting MORE. The whole film is a beautiful homage to Tony Jaa’s Ong-Bak & The Protector martial arts style. It’s a bit meaner and more brutal than most.. so I will warn this is NOT for the faint of heart. This is closer to the violence in The Raid films or Ong-Bak 2. Maybe not that violent but I feel I must give a warning. It’s not that violent to me but I watch so much f*cked up sh*t I tend to forget that most people aren’t used to the movie violence I am. Something like “Ip Man” franchise I’d consider being something more family friendly with the exception of the FIRST Ip Man (2008) which was rated R whereas the following 3 “Ip Man” films are PG-13 and would be something my dad or even my mom would’ve enjoyed.
Jeeja Yanin in "Chocolate" (2008)
Last little warning, and even feel bad for mentioning this and it should not at all take away from the full film.. but I was thrown by the opening... It felt kinda like a crappy student film (like something I would’ve made) I was genuinely worried I had gotten the wrong film. But within 5 minutes I was sucked in and Jeeja Yanin came in and TOOK THE FILM OVER. You forget all about the kinda rushed flashback opening as soon as our lead is introduced. And for some reason everything else picks up too it’s not just the lead distracting us from everything else. This movie is fun, dark, thoughtful, touching, brutal with a nice sprinkle of humor amongst the action. Stay around for the credits (Jackie Chan fans should know what’s up).
I was disappointed to see a Chocolate 2 (in 3D) was in development then canceled. The information on it is weirdly vague and missing throughout the internet.. Based on what I read Jeeja Yanin had a child and wanted to settle down after Triple Threat (2019). Now if you don’t mind.. I’m off to watch more Jeeja Yanin movies now.
Just an extra: it has a really f*cking cool animation sequence that I really loved.
Written by Sam Gall on 04/04/20
CGC Grading: Gem Mint 10.0
Trailer for "Chocolate" (2008):
Rent for $3.99 or buy for $12.99:
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