by Andrew James
The movie starts 20 years ago when we see a man die in a jungle in Thailand while his young son is dragged unwillingly to safety by another man. Flash forward to the present and we see the young boy turned to a hardened criminal. He is on the run from the cops out of a small village in Thailand. An old monk and some other characters all play a role, and it is apparent that there is a deeper story to who these people all are and how they are connected. Unfortunately it's a little difficult to follow exactly who is who and a brief discussion with others when the films ends will be required to understand exactly what role each character was portraying.
The heart of the film though, is a chase through the "haunted" jungle of Northern Thailand. Within the jungle, there are thousnads of vicious beasts and insects; flesh eating wasps being my personal favorite. There is also a 200 foot long cobra that travels extremely quickly and quietly to spring itself on unsuspecting prey; in this case, humans. Besides these, there are many other just as ferocious elements lurking within the jungle (hundreds of biting lizards, naked women that turn into flesh-suckers and giant insects to name a few). Along the way, the good guys (while in hot pursuit of the criminal element) meet with two mysterious women who help them narrowly survive a couple of said creature's traps. The women bring the men to their village where the cops hope to stay safe, but these women are hiding something far more dangerous than what's in the jungle.
There were two main problems I had with this movie. The first, and the most obvious, are the special effects of yester-year. They were not completely horrible like an old B-movie. But they were very similar to F/X Hollywood employed 10-15 years ago. The snake just wasn't completely believable and some of the other creatures just weren't very true to life. The filmmakers used what they had to the best of their ability and I applaud them for that, but it's just not up to the standards I (or western audiences) are accustomed to.
Second, it was so obviously a directorial debut. Aside from one or two shots in particular that I can remember, there was really nothing special about the camera work or choreography. For the most part, it was guys running and shooting, and then guys running and fighting. The fighting sequences were a bit contrived and felt unpracticed.
I will give credit to an attempt at an interesting try at a semi-convoluted stoyline and some very unique characters. Not to mention countless numbers of the most gorgeous women from Thailand you can imagine. But for some reason it was an uninteresting journey through a creature infested jungle that we've seen before. Think about the giant insect scene from 2005's King Kong. Now think about that same scene for nearly an hour and a half.
Since I enjoy creepy-crawly things (on the screen) and I can appreciate an attempt to merge that with a grandfather paradox type of storyline, Vengeance was not completely awful. I had some fun with the gross out stuff and once I had discussed it with others later and figured out who all the characters were and what their part was in the storyline, I am able to walk away and say I'm glad I saw it, but also glad I saw it for free. I wouldn't really recommend this to anyone other than the hard-core creature-feature fans out there, or those with a passion for vampire-esque type of films that can overlook some of the unconvincing effects. Still, I look forward to seeing what this director can do in the future. I'm all about giving someone a second chance.
IMDb.com - full cast and crew
Official Site (in English)