Director Panna Ritthikrai had been the least known name in the Thai mainstream film circle until recently. In my early years of working in the industry a decade ago, this name was registered only as a stuntman and a director of B-grade action flicks. However, if it is not the alarmingly international hits of Prachya Pinkaew’s Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, Panna might hang out only around the direct-to-VCD circle, a new form of Thai B-grade cinema.
So what was this man going to do with his own movie, doubled by the fact of being his mainstream directorial debut? Panna did prove himself as a master of action, though the plot is rather weak. A group of national athletes go on a charity trip to a rural village near the Thai-Burmese border. But they encounter an army of armed militia who have a nuclear missile and demand the release of a drug lord.
Certainly, he did not forget to introduce the second action star Dan Choopong as the response to the international welcome towards such Thai action star as Tony Jaa. But this time, he went far than any other action directors could think of - he employed the arts of western boxing, football, rugby, gymnastic, taekwondo, cycling, motor-cycling, and - perhaps the most authentic sport - sepak raga (woven rattan ball), into the new martial arts. All of Thailand’s national athletes were there. The Olympic boxing champion Somrak Khamsing, the world motor-racing champion Chakhrit Rungsuwan, the football salvo star Piyaphong Pew-on, the gymnastic stars, and etc. This casting of ten superstars no surprise marked up the film to be the most expansive action film ever made in Thailand, with US$1,250,000 million.
Born to Fight becomes the film full of authentic, original, strange, and funny components. A man always fights against the villain by salvoing a row of balls. A young man and woman are dancing on the gymnastic bar to kick their enemies. A racer always rides his motorcycle to crash and trump down poor villains. However, in watching it, perhaps it is a good idea for one just to sit down, relax, and no question marks in perceiving the plot and story. Then you will be in the realm of enjoyment and happy ending.