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  Chai Lai Angels: Dangerous Flowers Mad Mission
Year: 2006
Director: Poj Arnon
Stars: Jintara Poonlarp, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Supakson Chaimongkol, Bunyawan Pongsuwan, Kessarin Ektawatkul, Krit Sripoomseth, Salani Chachacha, Sarinee Kaewtanong, Wiradit Srimalai, Weeradit Srimalaikue, Nawarat Taecharatansprasert, Pomnapra Theptinnakorn
Genre: Comedy, Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: On this flight the stewardesses are asking the passengers if they want coffee, and everything seems normal - but it isn't. When one woman goes to the bathroom and leaves her stepdaughter Miki (Nawarat Taecharatansprasert) alone in her seat, a man sits down next to the girl and produces a pipe, one which belongs to her father. This is proof that he represents the men who have kidnapped him, and he tells Miki she will be going with him, but she is resistant and starts a commotion, with the henchmen commencing battle with the stewardesses, for these women are members of the Chai Lais...

And who are the Chai Lais? In Thai, the name means beautiful woman, but also it sounded a bit like Charlie, especially if you said it in a Thai accent, which should give you some idea of where they were coming from: essentially a Far Eastern spoof of Charlie's Angels. Though not the original television series from the seventies, the more recent films which you could argue were spoofy in themselves, and that this send up was more imitation than parody. Whatever, this was at least better than the second, Full Throttle effort, and if you were attuned to the sense of humour on display offered an experience both goofy and amusing.

There are five Angels here, all named after flowers, three evidently hired for their beauty and the other two, older ones for their comedy skills. Basically, when Rose (Bongkoj Khongmalai) is given a big scene, it features her dancing around in her underwear because of her buxom pulchritude whereas the comediennes get to fire rocket launchers and miss, or have their arses grabbed to make them furious, which has the effect of offering the Angel in question superhuman strength. If nothing else, director Poj Arnon (a prolific figure in Thailand) was on the side of the girls all the way, though according to him this was really an environmental message he was conveying about everything having its correct place.

Good luck fathoming that from the absurdities played out here, as you would most likely be watching for the humour and the action, of which there was an abundance. Not all of it was effective, as no matter what was going on Arnon worked in broad strokes, but the setpieces were well handled involving as they did the requisite car chases and martial arts bouts, all of which had a wacky twist. There were occasions where things would get serious, but it appeared the film's heart wasn't in them and soon they would fall back on their position of being very silly. When you were watching a little girl beating up a bunch of burly henchmen in a way that made Kick-Ass look somewhat derivative, you knew you were not in sensible territory.

That plot had a large pearl as its MacGuffin, an object the bad guys want to get from Miki's dad but he's not talking, so they kidnap the moppet and find she's not talking either. Thus it's up to the Chai Lais to step in and take charge, except they waver wildly between efficiency and complete pandemonium, all for comic effect. It's the sort of film where our heroines can find themselves trapped under a cage then saved when their other colleague arrives in a tank driven by her new policeman boyfriend, and that anything goes tone extends to such villains as a camp transvestite and a sidekick whose crossed eyes ensure she cannot do anything straight. The use of the location famed from The Man with the Golden Gun as Scaramanga's headquarters might indicate the filmmakers were keen to draw in the international Bond fan market, but this was a lot more ridiculous than even Moonraker, and the particular Thai flavour to the proceedings resulted in diverting if flimsy hijinks.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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