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Thai Martial-Arts Flick Chocolate Takes More Punches Than Bruce Lee and Vince McMahon Combined

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Chocolate
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Magnet Films
Opens February 6, Sunshine Cinema

The world may not have needed a Thai-language martial-arts hybrid of Kill Bill and Rain Man, but by God, it's got one now. Already chopped into countless snippets and strewn across YouTube, director Prachya Pinkaew's follow-up to the mighty Muay Thai epics Ong-Bak and The Protector offers more of everything: more score-settling for the West's Asian-action culture thievery, more maudlin interludes, and more knees, fists, and elbows to the skull than the oeuvres of Bruce Lee and Vince McMahon combined. In place of his former leading man Tony Jaa, Pinkaew offers instant action hero JeeJa Yanin as an autistic girl who instinctively apes the fights she sees in movies and video games. When her ex-moll mom develops cancer, the girl goes collecting on old debts to pay for her treatment—and if you can stop goggling at the tasteless premise, the formula of a slight, scrawny chick pulverizing brawny thugs never loses its fist-pumping appeal. Though the plot just lets Pinkaew restage the same fight over and over on different sets, let it also be said that they get bigger and better each time—culminating in a neck-snapping, head-busting, leg-twisting, gravity-defying free-for-all played out on ledges high above a city street. This is backyard wrestling as cinema, and you can judge for yourself if that's a recommendation or a warning. Memo to Magnolia's genre-movie subsidiary Magnet, which also put out the excellent Swedish vampire movie Let the Right One In: More, please.

 
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