Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yamada: The Samurai of Ayothaya

Why would anyone, who has considerable resources to create an entrie village of ancient Siam (modern day Thailand), and photograph it so beautifully, hire a bunch of actors who cannot act to save their lives. I am sure, Thailand has it share of talented actors.

This is the major problem with Yamada: The Samurai of Ayothaya, a movie based on history, about the relationship between Thailand and Japan, shot magnificently, and featuring breathtaking action chreography. But all of these come undone as result of the poor acting from the cast. I really don't understand the Thai and Japanese, languages used in the film, but you can feel the awkwardness when the actors speak their lines. To top that, the English subtitle of the copy I saw was atrocious. The subtitle was translated by a Good Samaritan from the Vietnamese version of the film. I actually had to correct the sentences as I read them, which was a distraction, but not more than the bad acting.

The historical tale narrates the story of Yamada, a Japanese spy, trying to find ways to conquer Ayothaya, the capital of Siam. There is a skirmish at his camp, and his boss attempts to kill him after he failed in a mission. As he lay dying, the Siamese soldiers carry him along to their town/village and he is braught back to life. One he is recovered, Yamada finally finds peace in the village, learns the local martial art (making way for some wonderful action choreography), and vowes to protect Ayothaya from the outsiders.

In the process, he befriends the local warrior leader, and perhaps also falls in love. All these are shot in bright colours, with authentic-looking backdrop and costume. At one point, a young girl gives Yamada the areca nuts and betel leaves to chew, which was very popular in Thailand in those days, and to this day. Such eyes to historical details abounds in the film, and that's why you complain about the bad acting.

You rue the missed opportunity.

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