22 October 2010

The Red Eagle

The Red Eagle
The Red Eagle is Wisit Sasanatieng's remake of The Golden Eagle, a superhero film made in Thailand in 1970. Mitr Chaibancha, the star of the original film, died during the production, falling from a helicopter while filming the final sequence. Mitr has been replaced by Ananda Everingham in Wisit's updated version.

Featuring rapid-montage fight sequences, and filmed largely with hand-held cameras, The Red Eagle is a surprisingly commercial action film from a director more comfortable with indie cinema. Like his previous film The Unseeable, it's a mainstream genre movie, though its over-the-top violence echoes that of his cult debut Tears Of The Black Tiger. While that first film - and its follow-up, Citizen Dog - were vibrantly coloured and somewhat kitsch, The Red Eagle is visually and thematically darker.

As played by Ananda, Red Eagle is as much a criminal as a superhero. Like Iron Man, he is dependent on pain-relieving medication; like Batman in The Dark Knight, he rides a gleaming black motorbike; like both of them, he has no superpowers. He is pursued by a black-caped figure and sought by a mysterious cabal of masked men, adding stylised elements to an otherwise conventional film. Political corruption is a major theme, and scenes in which the Thai Prime Minister's car is surrounded by protesters are a reminder of last year's demonstrations in Bangkok.

Wisit has announced that The Red Eagle may be his final studio film, as he is apparently tired of compromising his artistic integrity. The Thai National Film Archive screened all of his previous films last month.

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