During a joint Thai/CIA mission, sword-swinging, butt-kicking elite Royal Thai Police agent Genja (Sophita Sirban) is double-crossed and left for dead by duplicitous American agent Claire (Jacqui A. Thananon). After two years in hiding, Genja resurfaces amid a plot to stir up ethic tension amid Malay Thais in the Southern Yala Province. Claire is behind a series of terrorist attacks that have been staged to frame the Malays and drum up support for military action against them. At least, I think that’s the story here. Having watched this film from start to finish, I’m actually struggling to remember what the actual plot was…
If nothing else, Vanquisher (also known as Final Target and Beautiful Assassin) proves that Thailand can turn out an action film every bit as shoddy, stupid and laughable as the worst American DTV dreck. A detailed breakdown of all the faults of this film would take a full day to list, so I’ll try to keep it succinct.
The action in Vanquisher is intermittent and only occasionally well-choreographed, with wire-fu so blatant you might as well see the cables were they not airbrushed out. There’s an overreliance on videogame-level CGI throughout, with hokey digital explosions, gunshots and blood spurts. Combined with lousy greenscreen, this makes you feel like you’re watching cut-scenes from a mid-nineties “interactive movie” game. As for the writing, you know all those bits of background detail that most political thrillers have that give the films verisimilitude? They’re absent here. This feels like a spy thriller written by a kid who watched a couple of Bond or Bourne movies and didn’t comprehend what made them work. As such, there’s a couple of wince-inducing attempts at pegging global implications to the mayhem (mostly limited to a couple of digs at George W. Bush, who was already out of office by the time this was released) which play like total afterthoughts.
Then there’s the single biggest failing of Vanquisher: the filmmakers’ foolish decision to shoot roughly half the movie in English, with a cast of mostly non-English speakers. Accordingly, the English dialogue sounds like it was translated via Babelfish, with choice nuggets like “There’s some serious matter. He’s in great dangers,” and “You have no chance to die another day! Better change your mind, Claire!” It’s utterly embarrassing to watch, not helped by the cast’s phonetic delivery of the dialogue. In this, Jacqui A. Thananaon is the worst culprit, constantly pausing unnaturally and placing inappropriate emphasis on certain words, though a couple of supporting cast have such garbled English that they are subtitled along with the Thai dialogue. Even the dual language titles have gaffes, such as “Yala Province, Southern of Thailand.” It’s probable that this decision was made to boost the likelihood of sales to English territories, but given the unintentionally funny results here, they simply shouldn’t have bothered.
The video for Vanquisher comes in a decent 1.78:1 transfer (though the trailer is in 2.35:1, so some reformatting seems to have taken place for DVD), with an absence of film artefacts and good, solid, naturalistic colours (bar that crap CGI). The subtitles are primarily for the foreign language dialogue (with the aforesaid bad English also covered) and there’s no SDH option for the hard of hearing. Both the 5.1 and 2.0 tracks do the job well, though neither is as punchy as you’d expect for an action film. Extras are limited to a theatrical trailer, and bonus Eastern Eye previews of Raging Phoenix, Chanbara Beauty, The Chasing World, Alien Vs Ninja and – ahem – Big Tits Zombie.
Vanquisher was released on 4 May 2011 by Madman Entertainment.