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Jason Bowers Says, in 2-4-2010 at 08:09:14 from     

I bought this movie because it was one of the only I could find on Blu-Ray. Visually the movie is great, but after that disappointment sets in. I thought this movie was going to be similar to Ong-bak the Thai Warrior. I was wrong. The action scenes are ok if like matrix style wire fighting. If real butt kicking is what you crave then this is NOT the film for you.
Rating: 2 / 5

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Ibrahim Balogun Says, in 2-4-2010 at 09:26:34 from     

To put it simply, this movie is what you call a bad movie, it is a few fight scenes away from a 1 star.
Rating: 2 / 5

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Paul A. Crutcher Says, in 2-4-2010 at 10:47:01 from     

If you enjoy aerobatic, choreographed fight sequences, ala Jackie Chan, *Chocolate* might do it for you. If you prefer dubbed films from Asia because “reading” is too bothersome, *Chocolate* fits nicely. Human drama? Forget it. For me, Zen whines far, far too much. Whether it be at flies or at or about her mother, she’s decidedly a whiny, screaming mess. The number of people who go down with single kicks to the gut is implausible — that is, until you see the credits. But the credits reveal another of Zen’s problems — she breaks a lot (thus making the film all that much more absurd). Oh, and that she’s named “Zen” smacks of a wild insensitivity to both Buddhism and to mental and physical disabilities.

Alas, I was hoping for something far more stylized. Much can be forgiven (e.g., political correctness) if the filmmakers pull you completely into an alluring universe and/or story. Yet this isn’t anything close to the fight sequences in *Ninja Assassin* or *Kill Bill Vol. 1.*

*Chocolate* for me was not worth the $3 on-demand rental, to be frank, but I am thoroughly pleased I didn’t decide $15 or $20 for the DVD or Blu-ray was a reasonable alternative.
Rating: 2 / 5

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Ana Mardoll Says, in 2-4-2010 at 12:58:43 from     

Chocolate / B001L67A4G

*Spoilers*

I like action movies. Always have, probably always will. Given a choice, I’ll almost always go for movies involving hand-to-hand combat, bullet-time, or car explosions. Ideally, all three in the same movie, which is one of many reasons why The Matrix was so enjoyable for me. So if you’ve been told that “Chocolate” is for action-lovers only and *you* are an action-lover yourself, let me tell you, friend-to-friend, why I absolutely hated this movie.

First and worst, “Chocolate” is boring and repetitive. Pretty much the entire movie (minus the laborious intro set-up) is one long fight scene in different locations and with different color filters over the cameras (the red fight scene, the green fight scene, the blue fight scene, etc.). And that’s fine, you know, there’s nothing *wrong* with a start-to-finish fight movie, but the *problem* is that it’s the SAME fight scene over and over again. All the moves are standard ‘movie kung fu’ that you’ve seen before, hundreds of times over, from everything from Blade to The Fifth Element to anything headlining Jackie Chan or Jet Li or both. And those same standard moves are repeated, over and over, for the *entire* movie – it’s like if someone invited you to a violin recital and you got there to discover that the entire piece was the same ten notes repeated for an entire hour’s “performance”. Disliking that doesn’t mean you don’t like violins – it means you don’t like mindless, bloody repetition.

A few decent effects might have eased the repetition somewhat – maybe some bullet time to really zero in on the beauty of the martial arts on display. Or perhaps some decent soundtrack and sound effects – I hate to keep mentioning “The Matrix”, but that’s a great example of where awesome music helped ease the repetition. Even if “Chocolate” just didn’t have the budget for decent effects or music, though, they could have at least taken those darn colors filters off all the fight scenes – as it is, it felt far too Color Coded For Your Convenience.

Let’s talk about the plot. A good plot can connect you with the characters and will allow you to forgive repetitive combat. The young lady gracing the cover is born with a non-specific learning disability that looks a lot like autism but allows her to master Waif Fu because of her obsessive attention to detail around her (motions, noises, lights, etc.). When her sainted mother is diagnosed with cancer and becomes the plot’s bottomless pit of money drainage, our young waif and her brains-behind-the-operation friend and caretaker stumble upon the bright idea to go extract (by violence if necessary, and it is ALWAYS necessary) money from gangsters who owe money to the ill mother. The plot is wafer-thin to the point that it rivals a Cinemax ‘adult’ movie (*ahem* Or So I Heard), and merely serves as a device to ferry our autistic wunderkind from location to location. Each fight follows the same formula: Our heroine demands “Give money! Give Mom money!”, the gangster-of-the-hour says no and summons all his minions (fish packers, dock workers, and sausage makers, mostly) to fight and die for his convenience, and then the titular waif makes off with the gangster’s money belt before changing the color-filter on the camera and moving onto the next level.

Once we work up to the boss level (oh yeah, the boss surrounds himself with transsexual minions – I don’t know why), we get Waif Fu plus a katana battle plus a rooftop scene plus a mini-boss who is tricky because he also apparently has some kind of muscular or developmental abnormality, making him harder for our girl to predict his movements. I’m not sure if the producers were explicitly going for a video game tie-in or not, but it sure *feels* like a video game, but without the actual involvement. At this point, I would recommend pushing random buttons on the DVD remote and *pretending* that you’re playing the character in a game – at least then the repetitive combat is slightly more immersive. Once enough people have been shot or stabbed enough to stop moving (in the world of “Chocolate”, it takes at least one shot and two stabbings or one fall from a large height to REALLY stop anyone – including Sickly Cancer Mom, who actually turns out to be fairly spritely), the movie ends finally.

A lot of people have said that the lack of high-tech effects or abilities make this movie a better experience for martial arts purists, but I just don’t see it. This isn’t a tournament where you can be reasonably certain that everyone’s best moves are on display – everything is carefully scripted so that the titular waif girl swings her leg and the peoples all fall down. I’m sure a lot of skill went into *making* this movie, but that doesn’t mean that the end result is entertaining. If you want to see a “pure” display of talent, watch a tournament; if you want to see scripted action, pick up something with a little more polish and shine. Low-budget movies don’t have to be bad, but it seems that “Chocolate” was made only for the same punch-kick-jump combo repeated ad naseum and the writers couldn’t be bothered to include a decent story so they just figured that an autistic kid fighting transsexuals would be cool and knocked off for lunch. For *four years*. And that’s just lazy.
Rating: 1 / 5

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Mantis Lake Says, in 2-4-2010 at 13:06:26 from     

If you have read any previous reviews of this film and wish to see it, you may suffer from great expectations. Not only the worst thing Dickens ever wrote but the easiest way to kill what might otherwise have been an enjoyable romp at the movies. I’m not sure that lowering one’s expectations would’ve helped this one too much. Even in bad movies, one can still enjoy themselves by feeling “involved”. I found it very hard to relate to the main character.

The film starts with forbidden love between a Thai mafia women named Zin (Ammara Siripong) and a Yakuza (Hiroshi Abe) that results in an autistic baby girl. The Thai mafia separates the couple and Zin raises the girl, Zen (newcomer JeeJa Yanin). Zen grows up watching martial arts films and running from flies. She has an uncanny ability to mimic the intricate moves she sees on the screen, in addition to other skills. When her mother falls ill and cannot afford the treatment, Zen and her friend find a diary that list many people who owe money to Zin. Zen then goes about retrieving said cash.

I have been super-geeked about seeing this ever since I watched the trailer last year sometime. To call it a letdown would be an understatement. I expected the plot to be crap, so I wasn’t too upset about that. I wanted to see the cool fights that everyone was talking about. Other than the last 20 minutes of the film, the fights suck. Zen goes to place after place demanding cash. She is then laughed at and attacked. She fights dude after dude until the boss is scared and hands over the money. These fights consist of being attacked one by one, with every dude throwing one punch (that’s so slow a statue could dodge it) before getting kicked in the face.

HOWEVER I will admit that the finale is AWESOME! The last 20 minutes will induce more than its fair share of cringes as stunt-men earn their money the old-fashioned way: Brutally! The whole bag of tricks is emptied here. Some fantastic Muay Thai moves with a little Tae Kwon Do thrown in.

JeeJa Yanin is more than capable of performing some sweet moves and I can’t wait to see her in more stuff. This, however, I probably could’ve done without. The presentation from the Magnolia DVD is stellar with a widescreen picture and the option of an English dub or subtitles. The special features are limited to a “making of” segment. I may be the only person who doesn’t like this movie (as a whole), so please take my review with a grain of salt. I tried to be objective and move past those pesky expectations I mentioned earlier. I’m also the ONLY person that didn’t like “Drunken Master”. 2.5 to 3 stars, but the last act is 5-star quality.

2008. aka: Fury
Rating: 3 / 5

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