Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest Review – Farang

FrightFest Review – Farang

Xavier Gens’ Farang – aka Mayhem!, and not to be confused with Joe Lynch’s Mayhem or the Swedish TV series Farang – has a couple of grade-A action sequences, including a lift fight much bloodier than that one with Captain America, and a charismatic turn from kickboxer Nassim Lyes in the lead, but the script is strictly cliché scenes paper-clipped together.

Samir Darba (Lyes), out on day-release from French prison and trying to go straight, is harassed by his old gang and kills a thug in elaborately justified self-defence.  We also know he’s a nice guy because he helps a workmate after a building site accident and – five years later – has relocated to Thailand.  He has a pregnant wife (Loryn Nounay), adorable stepdaughter Dara (Chananticha Tang-Kawa), wise old mentor (Vithaya Pansringarm) and works two jobs (fall guy foreigner who loses fights, conveying luggage from airport to hotel) to finance his wife’s dream of opening a bar on a beach.  All this is a lot of exposition to get through, with key plot hung on slightly dodgy local fixer Sombat (Sahajak Boonthanakit) … before we even meet French exile gangster Narong (Olivier Gourmet), who promises to fund the bar if Sam will only do one small suitcase-carrying job for him.

After that, it pretty much goes the way you’d expect in a 1990s videocassette release starring Mark Dacascos, Olivier Gruner or Jeff Speakman.  Job goes wrong, wife gets fridged and stepdaughter abducted (yes, we’re still doing this – I can see Anne Billson boycotting the movie already), Sam survives Dr Evil style certain death as wicked mastermind sets fire to hut and walks away without checking the job’s done properly, recovery and some mystic stuff with Thai amulets.  And, finally, a string of impressively-choreographed fight scenes as our hero slaughters his way up the Bangkok criminal food chain for a rematch with Narong, who obligingly explains some loose plot threads to the battered, broken-boned, still determined hero lying at his feet where he could easily be shot in the head.  Narong, like all masterminds, wants to end Sam with his bare hands, though – having sat back while his business is all but demolished and his best minions killed or crippled just because he’s the kind of verminous lowlife villain who’ll sell a child into sex slavery but just can’t be bothered to make sure a probable avenging threat is properly dead.

It’s admirably diverse, yet trades in stereotypes – yes, the hero has to question some ladyboys … and gets martial arts tips from a guru who’s happy to throw away his own life on someone else’s quest … and a key scene involves drugs being stuffed in prawns.  That elevator rumble is going to look great on Lyes’ clip reel.


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