Now for a film I only decided to watch for the involvement of Jeeja Yanin, who seriously impressed in “Chocolate” and was the best thing about “Raging Phoenix”. This one however is a little bit odd, but I will come to that during the review.
“The Kick” is about a Korean Family of Taekwondo experts – The Mother an Olympic Champion, the Father (Cho Jae-hyun) a Silver Medallist (the failure of which haunts him). They have raised their two older children to repeat their success (or maybe make up for their failure) – the problem is, that the son is much more interested in becoming a Backing Dancer for a K-Pop band. Add into the mix a precocious and cute little boy as well! For reasons that were either unclear, or I had missed, they have relocated to Thailand, where they run a Gym, a Korean restaurant and perform Taekwondo shows. One day they run into an attempted robbery of a valuable antique Dagger, and thwart it, making them mini-celebrities. However, our evil mastermind takes umbrage to this, and attempts to wreak revenge. They take refuge with a Thai friend, who happens to run Bangkok Zoo, along with his daughter Whawha (Jeeja Yanin), who just happens to be a Muay Thai Champion, who of course starts a romance with the eldest son. Well,the revenge does not stop there, and our bad guys capture that oh so cute little boy, driving the family to initially attempting to steal the Dagger themselves, and then be involved in an all out fight to save their son.
Hmm, I have to say my feeling after seeing this was one of utter underwhelming meh. At its core, the film is trying to achieve two goals. It is a family movie, so is therefore somewhat lacking in the hardcore action, and it is attempting to advertise Korean Culture to the Thai Audience. So we get lots of Taekwondo, Korean Cooking, Korean K-pop and so on. The thing is the Hallyu occurred for the rest of the world over ten years ago. I would have far more liked to have seen our Korean family in some kind of “Fish out of water” concept being stuck in Thailand.
The action, when it is shown is of a reasonable quality, and a couple of the set pieces are a lot of fun – there is an amusing segment in the Kitchen with pots and pans being used for musical accompaniment, and one scene using ceiling fans is rather well done. Sadly though, the reliance on Taekwondo means that the battles are not as visually impressive as they might be. This is not a Martial Art that really plays well to the camera, being mostly about high kicks. And the overplayed flying kick not only tires after the fifth repeat performance, but seems to leave the performer of said kick rather prone and vulnerable on the floor.
Not only this, but there just is not enough of the real action star – Jeeja is introduced far too late in proceedings, and it takes far too long to get her really kicking any but! There are just too many characters, and they are all too lightly drawn. Our villain makes little sense – he is obviously super rich and very capable, and has an army of Martial Artists at his beck and call – it really beggars belief that he would need to use the Korean family to steal this dagger. There are some nice ideas here, such as all the women in the film actually being the best fighters of all, but little is done with this – to the extent the teenage daughter (Kim Kyong-suk) seems to have no real personality or story at all. Even more puzzling is Cho Jae-hyun – he is a renowned actor, most famous for starring in a number of Kim Ki-duk films – but here he is a one-note character, and totally wasted.
Although most of the action is actually pretty real (the highlight of the film is a Jackie Chan movie style blooper reel showing the on set accidents), the film makes use of CGI – very unsuccessfully. The fire in the Kitchen scene is pretty woeful, but the Crocodiles in the Zoo are so bad that it takes you out of the movie, and neither achieves the sense of peril not comedy the film is obviously attempting to milk.
As a film it is harmless enough, but fails as a humorous family film, and as any kind of action cinema. It fails to make use of an interesting cast, and if anything shows that Jeeja Yanin probably needs to move outside the sphere of Director/Producer Prachya Pinkaew in the next film or so. Mildly recommended, but you can easily do a lot better!