Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tears of the Black Tiger

Tears of the Black Tiger (2000)
Dir: Wisit Sasanatieng
Staring Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchui. Supakorn Kitsuwon, Sombat Metanee

The tragic tale of starcrossed lovers Rumpoey (Malucchui) and Dum (Ngamsan), the daughter of the governor and the poor farmers son now know as the gunslinger "Black Tiger".
This is a weird film to describe, due to what it's trying to homage. It's as much a western as it is a romantic melodrama. And it's a very beautiful looking film. It's a combination of outdoor locations and sets, but some of the sets use Expressionist  looking backgrounds that are beautiful but nowhere near realistic looking, and the entire film is full of vibrant colors that feel more like a Jacques Demy film than anything else. This is one of the times that I wish that I was watching a film on blu-ray rather than dvd*. Also there is scenes of spaghetti western inspired violence. And on top of that the film is from Thailand. But it all comes together and the film works. The film manages to take inspiration and ape the styles of a lot of different styles of film, and combine them in a way that feels fresh.

This is a great example of the look of the film.
Beautiful, but highly stylized and not realistic. 
This movie tells the story of the romance between Dum and Rumpoey. Dum is a poor farmers son, and Rumpoey is the daughter of a wealthy governor. The story jumps back and forth through time, showing you how they meet and the even that lead to Dum becoming the legendary gunslinger Black Tiger, and Rumpoey being betrothed to an up and coming police officer, who's part of the force looking for the bandit gang that Dum happens to be part of.

The film had a troubled release history in the States, having initially being bought by Miramax, where Harvey Weinstein cut up the film and changed the ending to a more happier one, and then proceeded to sit on the film and not release it, until Magnolia was able to gain the rights and release the uncut film in the U.S. But what's really saddest about what happened with Miramax's handling of Tears of the Black Tiger is that this was their standard procedure for foreign films, and why I am much happier now that there are more studios willing to bring more foreign films over here without making changes to them, if they even bother to release them at all.**

This is a movie that I'd recommend for the novelty of what it is, but it also happens to be a pretty good movie. Really I can't think of anything else out there that is remotely like this film. I'd recommend checking it out.

*As much as I would like for this movie to be available on blu-ray, I completely understand why it is dvd only. Even if the materials where available for a high definition release of the film, it wouldn't be financially viable for Magnolia to release the disc,

**Miramax also had the rights to my favorite Jackie Chan's movie Wheels on Meals, and they never released that in the U.S.

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