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In the countryside of Thailand, a gang of outlaws makes the region unsafe. Among them is the handsome gun hero Dum, who became unwillingly involved in the bandit life. Handsome Dum made a promise to his upper-crust lover Rumpoey: despite the class difference, they will get married. When the moment of reunion arrives, Dum gets involved in a fire fight and cannot possibly reach Rumpoey in time. She is desperate: her father has married her off to a policeman. The taciturn Dum, called the 'Black Tiger' by his co-conspirators, has however not forgotten Rumpoey. He does everything in his power to reach her, but fate gets in the way: his gang leader suspects him of treachery and his blood brother turns into his greatest enemy. Will the two lovers ever meet up? This urgent question propels the melodrama forward, supported by exciting music, spectacular shootouts and heroic duels.Written by
International sales rights to Tears of the Black Tiger were purchased by Fortissimo Films, which marketed a 101-minute "international cut", edited by director Wisit Sasanatieng from the original 110-minute length. The shorter version omits some transitional scenes in order to streamline the pacing of the film. This version was released theatrically in several countries, including France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Among the deleted scenes are those involving the comic relief character, Sergeant Yam, Rumpoey's engagement to Captain Kumjorn and other transitional scenes. Fortissimo sold the US distribution rights to Miramax Films during the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Miramax then sent word that it wanted to alter the film. Wisit offered the company an even shorter version than the international cut, but the company refused, cutting 30 minutes out of the film resulting a 81 minute cut. "They didn't allow myself to re-cut it at all", Wisit said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "They did it by themselves and then sent the tape. And they changed the ending from tragic to happy. They said that in the time after 9/11, nobody would like to see something sad. Altering films was routine for Miramax, at the time headed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who defended their actions by saying the films needed editing to make them marketable to American audiences. Other examples were the Miramax releases of Shaolin Soccer and Hero. The Miramax version was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. The company then shelved the film, fearing it would not do well in a wider release. This was another routine by the Weinsteins, who delayed releases so they could shift potential money-losing films to future fiscal years and ensure they would receive annual bonuses from Miramax's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company. As Tears of the Black Tiger languished in the Miramax vaults, its cult film status was heightened and it became a "Holy Grail" for film fans. For viewers in the US, the only way to watch it was to purchase the DVD from overseas importers, however some of those versions of the film had also been heavily edited. In late 2006, Magnolia Pictures acquired the film's distribution rights from Miramax. Magnolia screened the original version of the film in a limited release from January to April 2007 in several US cities. See more »
By everything sacred in this world, I, Mahesuan, swear, with the Buddha as my witness, I'll always be true and loyal to my blood brother, Dom, the Black Tiger who saved my life. If I break this oath, may his gun take my life.
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A Nutshell Review: (DVD) Tears of the Black Tiger (2000)
I've borrowed this DVD from the library twice before, but never had the chance to watch it, until now. The appeal is actually to see some of Thai director Wisit Sasanatieng's past works, before his up and coming made-in-Singapore flick called Armful. And I've heard some good things about this movie too.
The story combines two different genres into one, the first being a cowboy western, (set in Thailand no less!) and the usual star-crossed lover romance. Perhaps the novelty of the first genre type is having Thai folks dress up as cowboys, riding on their steed and somehow, becoming the villains as they plunder and kill. Yup, they're not the good guys, against the usual stereotype. Here, the cowboys are bandits, and the good folks are naturally, the cops.
But amongst all the bad hats (pardon the pun), there's always the hero who's forced by circumstances to join the group. Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), also known as the notorious Black Tiger, renowned fastest and deadliest draw in all of Thailand, has a childhood sweetheart in Rumpoey (Sttella Malucchi). However, their difference in status (he's the son of a servant, while she, the daughter of the governor) meant that it's a forbidden romance to begin with. Knowing his place in her world, he could only admire from afar, becoming her protector, shielding her from harm (like numerous approaches by lechers and bandits).
A man gotta do what a man gotta do, and during one of his missions, he failed to meet up with Rumpoey presumably to elope, while she took it as a sign that he didn't want to. Like Romeo and Juliet, she's betrothed to Kumjorn (Arawat Ruangyuth), a police captain captured by Dum's notorious gangster boss Fai (Sombat Metanee). And like all star crossed lovers whose lives are played by Fate, these events start to spin and take on a life of its own, changing the course of our characters lives forever.
It's a beautifully shot movie, with plenty of pastel colours draping the sets, which at times make you cringe and beg for it to stop. As if to complement its saccharine sweet and sentimental love story, it elevates the movie to a surreal dream like level. The action sequences can be quite cheesy, with the reminiscence of old spaghetti cowboy western gun fights. But the best bits about the film, are the songs. I don't understand Thai, but even if without the subtitles interpreting the lyrics, I thought that they were beautiful enough to accentuate scenes in the movie.
Perhaps my only gripe about the movie in this version of the DVD, is that the bloody violence had been censored, depriving me the bloody glee of watching the Black Tiger dispatch his opponents with his accuracy. There were scenes where footsoldiers bled by the bucketloads of ketchup, but the crucial one-on-ones were totally censored, and you wouldn't know the nitty gritty details of the death. Truly marred my enjoyment of the movie. What gives?
Code 3 DVD contains some extras, like Extracts from the Book - Black Tiger's Philosophy and Rumpoey's Guilt, explaining a bit more about the lead characters, Insights into the Film Aesthetic takes a look at the Sala Raw Nang, or "Awaiting the Maiden", the quintessential Thai shelter, and how Rattana Pestonji (indie Thai filmmaker) had influenced the set design, especially the colours. The extras is topped off with a one static screen Director's Inspiration, and the list of awards which this film has won.
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