What’s coming to a cinema near your in Bangkok. By Monruedee Jansuttipan, Nick Measures and Sinsiri Tiwutanond

With the Academy Awards happening this week, we decided to take a break from the bling of Hollywood and look ahead to what Thai films are set to make a big impact at local cinemas this year. We even break it down by genre to make it easier for you to find your next favorite Thai movie. (If you must, the Oscars are on Feb 27 in L.A. That’s Feb 28, 8am, our time. See the ceremony live on True Visons’ Star Movies.)

Action & Blockbuster

King Naresuan III and King Naresuan IV

Buzz: Like a bus, you wait a long time for one sequel to come along and then two come at once. Finally, we get to see what the the Ministry of Culture’s money has gone towards. Long awaited, these nationalistic tales are set to be the biggest blockbusters this year.
In theaters: 11 March 2011 and 11 August 2011, respectively
Studio: Prommitr Production and Sahamongkol Film International
Director: Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol
Stars: Captain Wanchana Sawasdee, Ja Panom, Major Winthai Suvaree, Noppachai Chainam, Inthira Charoenpura, Taksaorn Paksukcharern, Sorapong Chatree
Synopsis: In the third film, King Naresuan has won independence for the Thai people but is forced to fight again after a Chinese spy, sent by his Khmer enemies, escapes by Junk, culminating in an epic river battle. In the final installment, the action returns to terra firma as the Burmese army attempts to destroy Ayutthaya and capture King Naresuan.

Jak Ka Ran

Buzz: Dubbed the “B100 million-director,” famous comedian Mum Jokmok looks to continue his recent box office successes with his latest action comedy, which also stars the Kung Fu queen Jeeja.
In theaters: Not dated yet
Studio: Sahamongkol Film International
Director: Petchtai Wongkamlao (Mum Jokmok)
Stars: Yanin – Jeeja Vismistananda, Mum Jokmok, Boriboon – Tak Chanroeng Janreung, Arisa Rodsonthi and the Chuanchuen comedy group.
Synopsis: The story of a mischievous and fearless girl, Jak Ka Ran (Jeeja) who lives with her uncle (Mum Jokmok). While the full plotline is still a closely-guarded secret we do know that the film will combine action and comedy as we follow the lives of this unlikely pair.

Chocolate 2 (3D)

Buzz: Building on the success of the original, Jeeja is back as the badass, high-kicking autistic girl. Studio owner Somsak Techarattanaprasert, or Sia Jiang, has splashed a budget of over B100 million on the 3D martial arts sequel, claiming it will make Thai cinema proud.
In theaters: Not dated yet
Studio: Sahamongkol Film International
Director Prachya Pinkaew
Stars: Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda, Hiroshi Abe
Synopsis: Half Thai-half Japanese, Zen (Jeeja) is an autistic girl who struggles to interact with people socially but happens to be hot shit at learning and performing martial arts. The setting for this follow up is Japan; where Masashi, Zen’s father who also happens to be a card-carrying yakuza, decides to retire from the gangster life to take care of his daughter, a decision that sparks the beginnings of new conflicts.

Behind the scenes

We talk to Kunakorn Sethi, producer of King Naresuan

What were the biggest challenges on this project?
It has to be converting all the original historical texts into a visual experience. It meant having to create a new set for nearly every single scene. For the two sequels, 60% of what you see are new sets while the other 40% are sets developed from the previous movies.

What is the toughest scene in the movie?
Well, for the third film it had to be the naval battle while for the fourth movie it is filming the elephant battle. For the naval battle King Naresuan fights against the spy on the river but the trouble is no one knew what it was actually like. We had to build seven boats for King Naresuan’s fleet. Each boat took at least a year to build and there were at least 60 people paddling each boat. For the elephant battle, it’s not as simple as just filming a battle scene. We had to study why they went to war, how they actually fought each other, before designing how it would pan out. It’s very tough, especially controlling the elephants. It’s hard to stop them colliding with each other. We ended up taking three months to shoot separate shots for this battle scene. The whole thing will last only 3 minutes on screen.

After completing such a mega project are there any areas that need to be improved in the Thai film industry?
Technically we can stand alongside any other crew in the world, even Hollywood. But in my opinion, the only thing that we need to improve is our screenplay creation. I feel that everything is all the same, either comedies or ghost stories. We need to invent some new thing for the industry.

More genres:


Romantic Comedy


Coming Soon:  What Hollywood has in Store for us in 2011


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