Another all-action martial arts offering from Panna Rittikrai, the guy who's kept Thai action cinema alive for the past thirty years or so. Unfortunately, KNOCKOUT(they dropped the BANGKOK for the British release) is one of his lesser offerings. For those who complained about the paucity of the storyline in WARRIOR KING, you ain't seen nothing yet: the surrounding storyline in this film is amateurish in the extreme, a kind of riff on THE CONDEMNED which sees a bunch of characters thrown together in an old abandoned warehouse and forced to fight for their lives.
The film it's closest to in terms of scope is Rittikrai's original BORN TO FIGHT, made back in the '80s. All the requisite elements of Thai action cinema are present: masked, ninja-style assassins, goons on motorbikes flying through the air, scenery being broken and destroyed, people thrown from great heights. The fight scenes are enjoyable, although they lack the kind of finesse of the classic Tony Jaa outings: there seems to be no distinct beginning, middle and end to them, the film just depicts an ongoing melee situation and the bad guys are faceless and dull.
The use of multiple characters for the heroes was a bad idea. It worked in the BORN TO FIGHT remake, where each member of the athletics team had their own special skill clearly delineated. Here, though, the use of different styles wasn't clear; I didn't even realise they were being used until I watched the short making-of documentary afterwards. Mostly, the fights just consist of people running up walls, jumping and kicking people in the head. It's fun, but highly derivative.
The cast are pretty rubbish these are the kinds of guys who make a good stunt team, but who are hopeless as characters we're supposed to get behind and root for. The melodrama scenes are overstated and, even worse, there's an obnoxious comic relief character we're stuck with for a long, long time. While there are a few familiar faces in minor parts, the only actor I really recognised was Rittikrai himself, playing another merciless fighter with a twist this time, he's got asthma. You can guess the outcome.
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