"Edge Of The Empire" is based on a 1973 novel by Sanya Pholprasit. Set in southern Mongolia over 1,000 years ago, a small tribe called Tai was a colony under the power of the Great Han who ... See full summary »
"Edge Of The Empire" is based on a 1973 novel by Sanya Pholprasit. Set in southern Mongolia over 1,000 years ago, a small tribe called Tai was a colony under the power of the Great Han who enslaved them. Oppressed by the Han, the Tai unites to strike back for their freedom, justice, and country. This Thai historical epic revolves around heroes who sacrificed themselves to fight against the invasion of intruders and sought for the freedom of the country. Written by
Ill-judged and misconstrued piece running on some farcical approaches to its material; a thoroughly depressing exercise in war genre filmmaking that's best avoided.
Edge of the Empire documents the various struggles and the various tirades a small, Thai based village set hundreds of years ago must wade through so as to attain a sort of peace with themselves and everyone in the land. The continuous, trudging on through a whole host of battles and skirmishes led by fierce Generals and his bloodthirsty troops are demoralising and quite painful; we, the audience, sharing said pain in that ambling one's way through Nirattisai Kaljareuk's film and its various episodes of warfare is a monumental drag of similar proportions. The film, monstrously all over the place in tone and with a disgusting pseudo politic reading "war may well be absolute Hell for those involved, but can more often than not end up being a bloody good; visceral; stylish time for those watching", is rather-a poor effort and probably one of the worst films I've seen from recent times to have come out of the continent of Asia that I have seen from recent times. Given the size of Asia, that's quite an achievement; the film's lone. The piece is a badly judged, ill-disciplined effort; one of which, that, by the time it has rolled on past what I think the film though were intrinsic narrative double-crosses as well as the umpteenth blood soaked battle sequence, and we've reached the hour mark having witnessed a game of strip chess, no less, we are ready for it to just end.
Edge of the Empire's uneasy overall feel begins with a title sequence imbued by that of graphic novel iconography, with it a voice-over detailing the horrific liquidation of various villages and those of whom were young enough to escape and set up new societies. These people live in peace with one another, they accept the past and do not seek vengeance; they fight, but it is preordained for means of sport between the various newfound establishments and stands in stark contrast to that of later societies invading their space. The film covers young Lampoon (Thanakorn), a man whom, in spite of existing many centuries ago and in poverty, is a toned and muscular individual. With Lampoon arrives his sister Bunchawee (Sontirod), a young woman whom spends most of her screen-time looking like a model who has just arrived following the engaging in a specially themed Native American princess shoot. She's in love with a young lad, someone who's actually in the nearby Han dynasty, those guilty for the liquidation during the opening a dynasty still rather angry that some of them got away.
Things kick off when a young Han warlord arrives with a group of anonymous henchmen to invade the peaceful; tranquil; butterfly-ridden haven of the village but he and his men are easily dispatched. This angers Qin, the Han chief, and he dislodges the village's mayor-of-sorts with his own: a cackling, sadistic, power-mad individual named Litongjia (Suwanbang) whom we first see making use of a brothel's facilities, despite already being married. With Litongjia arrive scenes of the man that are drenched in a hue of blood red, echoing his overall role of bringing about murder; a sense of fire and brimstone enrapturing all around him additionally arriving as he stands on his perches dishing out pain and punishment, something that sees Kaljareuk construct a demon-like presence about the man. With his coming to power, Litongjia happens to illegalise all actions and ways of life that Lampoon and Bunchawee live by; so no relationships with Han's and no more weapons allowed rendering Lampoon, a sword-maker, redundant: what a coincidence.
The villagers in the various townships, and their now oppressive living conditions, combine their fighting spirits and create a droll, repetitive arc for the film to bed into; something which depressingly draws on inspiration from that of video games in that with each General arriving and failing, the next 'level' of bosses or antagonists that the characters must effectively foil becomes apparent the whole thing building, as is in a standard video game framework, to that of a huge confrontation with the 'big' boss and his armies. A terrible sequence sees an archer remarkably intercept three of Litongjia's arrows with that of his own, and yet is unable to just put one through the guy's neck thus saving all manner of bother and life. Throughout, Kaljareuk strikes us an an enthusiastic director but one with a lot left to learn; his hopping from an awfully executed rape sequence to the casual execution of helpless innocents, which is incidentally shot as if an action sequence in its rabid cutting and crash zooming, reeks of a man drawing the audience into offense as things escalate from rape to genocide to that of the threat of a child being murdered.
Kaljareuk's film is mostly, if not entirely, complete nonsense from its beginning to its end; principally, the film falling into that deathly unforgivable trap of entrusting sequences of warfare happening to double up as sequences of action, and as a result, ought to be shot accordingly; that spectacular scenes of on-rushing 'sides' in a battle is exciting, and that the capturing of it as sheer spectacle is how it ought to be done. Some of its content wouldn't necessarily go amiss in a film like Schindler's List, other content wouldn't necessarily feel out of place in a Stephen Chow movie, whereas the persistent overhanging sense of it geared towards that of a juvenile audience distracts greatly from what should essentially be a harrowing tale of tyranny and oppression. If one were to be caught looking for a recent film, from that continent of Asia, about war and oppression and all the nastiness that comes with that, but explored properly as well as played truthfully and correctly, then one must incline one towards seeing Chuan Lu's City of Life and Death; and by all means possible, are recommended to steer clear of this nonsense.
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