Over two hundred years ago, Siam was in a state of turmoil as an army ravaged the land in the course of a civil war. A splinter group broke off from the main body of fighters and headed for the village of Siyama, the gateway to a valley that would be strategically important should their rivals manage to occupy it. Once they had heard news of this, the villagers assembled to face the daunting forces that approached, with their finest combatants named the Black Siamese Nine - but would they be enough to counter the army? Or would they need a helping hand?
If, during the first fifteen minutes of Assassin Rising, or simply Siyama as it was originally known, you begin to think wait, there are too many characters here for a coherent story, then something occurs that both adds to your consternation and eventually clears it up because it offers you three new characters who are just as fresh to this setting as you are. Well, maybe not entirely, as they have read their history books and know what is going on and the outcome of the upcoming battle - why is that, you may well ask? That would be due to the trio hailing straight from the future.
That's right, this was no ordinary historical epic, it was a fantasy movie as well, although you'd need to brush up on your Thai culture to get the most out of it. Obviously aimed more at the home market than abroad, for outsiders they might find its concerns too esoteric to truly relate to, but there was bright playing from the future actors which proved engaging enough to give those viewers something to identify with and a refreshingly pro-female agenda. In the story, their characters happen to be driving along by the site of Siyama when they notice a monk walking past.
They pay their respects, but this proves a gateway into another world - actually the same world only a couple of centuries or more beforehand. A flash of light and a whirling vortex later and they have driven into the village of yesteryear, although they do quickly get their bearings, having a good idea of what has happened and where they are thanks to their learning. Ana (Thitima Maliwan) is a doctor who offers to assist with the casualties of the upcoming battle, but refuses to act on any violent impulses thanks to her oath, and a major theme of this is down to persuading her to take up arms when it's really necessary (she's an expert archer).
The other two are pretty Gib (Nattanun Jantarawetch) and comic relief Boat (Bawriboon Chanreuang), both students, who are only too pleased to fight, especially if it means turning the course of events, a plot point interesting for its refusal to go the usual "don't mess with the timeline" way. Funnily enough, once they've explained to the villagers who they are, they're accepted with surprising speed. But mainly this is about paying your respects to your ancestors, infused with a religious backing to the action, leaving this a curious hybrid of military spectacle and conservative, polite deference to the sacrifices of those who came before you and your spiritual affiliation. As it stood, it threw up a couple of twists and an open ending that practically demands modern Thais throw themselves into their patriotic duty, the action was serviceable, but it would mean most to those familiar with the country.