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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Review - Raging Phoenix
Monday, July 04, 2011

Deu is a down on her luck girl who’s been kicked out of her band and has lost everyone she’s ever cared about. Just when she thinks she’s reached her lowest point kidnappers attempt to take her. She’s saved by Sanim, who, in the first fight scene, takes on a host of bad guys who are on pogo-stilt contraptions that are also blades. Deu is then introduced to Pig Shit and Dog Shit (and later, Bull Shit), and after she sees them drunkenly take out a dozen interlopers she requests to learn Meyraiyuth from them.

What is Meyraiyuth? Meyraiyuth is a fictional style of martial arts created for the film that mixes Muay Thai, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do with B-Boying and copious amounts of alcohol, making for some of the wildest, and most enjoyable fight scenes I’ve seen in quite some time. The alcohol is totally absent from the second half of the film, but the deeper meaning behind the drunkenness is explained, which makes it a little less necessary as the film goes on.

Fight scenes make up the bulk of this movie as even parts of the plot are told through the fighting. The plot gets a little far fetched when it comes to why this gang is kidnapping beautiful girls, but that’s OK, this isn’t supposed to be a documentary, it’s supposed to be entertainment, and it certainly succeeds at being the latter. The second fight scene, the one that inspires Deu to ask to learn the style, takes place in a warehouse and is incredibly wild, with crazy B-Boy inspired moves and at least one individual fight that ends in a posedown. I haven’t seen B-Boy moves this deadly since that baby on YouTube ate it.

Deu is a fast learner of the moves, and being that actress Jija Yanin (also credited as JeeJa Yanin and Yanin Vismitananda) has a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and did all her own stunts for her previous film, Chocolate, we’re getting a real martial artist kicking some major ass.

While the final fight scenes last quite a while and involve some of the strongest rope bridges I’ve ever seen in my life, there’s more to Raging Phoenix than just the insanely well choreographed fight scenes and a sort of silly kidnapping plotline. Raging Phoenix also has a love story running through it, both between Deu and Sanim, and Sanim and his wife, who was kidnapped and he’s been searching for ever since.

Even though I wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the way the film ended, Raging Phoenix is one heck of a movie with a ton of replay value. After my first viewing I immediately went to the extras to watch the Making Of featurette because I wanted to know more. Jija Yanin is a superstar and Raging Phoenix now ranks one of my favorite martial arts movies (and this is coming from someone who holds a third degree black belt in Kempo!).

Enjoyability: 5 out of 5



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