Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Film Review: The Gangster (2012)

The Gangster (Review)
Thailand/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Streaming
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a viciously entertaining crime thriller."

In 1950s Bangkok, friends Jod (Krisada Sukosol Clapp) and Daeng (Somchai Kemglad) are skilled fighters and aspiring gangsters looking to move up in the criminal underworld...

The Gangster mainly follows Jod as he moves up the rankings and becomes a well-known and feared gangster -- inspiring others like him to follow in his path. However, Jod enters an internal conflict as the violence surrounding him increases, and as the rules to the game change. As the gangster population increases, and as the knife era transitions into the firearm era, Jod finds himself facing off against his inner-demons, other gang affiliates, and the country's army. The plot is similar to many "up-and-coming gangster" films, but it still manages to differentiate itself a bit. The ending feels a bit underwhelming and rushed -- there's an entire subplot that works for developing the plot and progression, but comes up shorthanded -- but it is decent and doesn't sugarcoat the subject.

The Gangster is similar to many gangster films we've seen before; off the bat, if you're exhausted by the genre, this film probably shouldn't be at the top of your watch list -- save it for later, when you need your gangster fix. The plot is interesting, though, and the setting helps differentiate it by a small margin. There's plenty of tension, especially during showdowns, a few grizzly fight sequences, and several gunfights. Although some of it looked computer, the film doesn't hold back in terms of blood and violence -- characters usually end up soaked in blood after confrontations. I really enjoyed the main plot and its focus on Jod. The subplot follows a similar pair of aspiring gangsters and it helps push the story and the era shift, but the ending for this plot was shorthanded -- it's not as effective as it thinks it is. Otherwise, if you're looking for a well-paced, grizzly up-and-coming gangster flick, The Gangster delivers.

Krisada Sukosol Clapp is great as the lead; really a fantastic leading man with great emotional depth, both blatant and subtle. Somchai Kemglad shares less screen time, but plays the slick gangster well. The rest of the cast is really great, too, really embodying the rock-and-roll gangster well. The setting really stood out as well developed; although I'm not familiar with the history of Bangkok, the setting felt authentic. The rock music really contributed to the authenticity of the film, as well. Director Kongkiat Khomsiri, who's had his hand in Art of the Devil and it's sequel, plays it safe with a procedural approach to the gangster genre, but delivers a well-paced and balanced film, regardless.

Overall, The Gangster is a viciously entertaining crime thriller. It moves over a large period of time with great focus on it's lead character and his moral and legal troubles. It really had me hooked from beginning to end. The ending felt a little too over-the-top, though, and the subplot also dwindles towards the end.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, nudity and sex.

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