Deaw (Dan Chupong) is a troubled young undercover cop who recently saw his partner/mentor die on a case. His sister Nui (Kessarin Ektawatkul,) a national Taekwondo champion, convinces him to accompany her on a good will trip to a small rural town along with a group of Thai athletes. When the village is suddenly taken over by revolutionaries with a nuclear missile, who are happy to execute their hostages, they are all soon presented with the choice of rebelling against their captors, or to die.
I’d mentioned in my review of ‘Opapatika’ that I couldn’t think of a Thai movie that I’d recommend for its plot, and 'Born to Fight' is no exception. The plot here is shoestring at best, and at worst, doesn’t make a lot of sense. If only someone would make director Panna Rittikrai take a class in narrative flow. Now, ‘Opapatika’ suffered from having a boring, muddled story with no clear protagonist. ‘Born to Fight’ suffers from having no story at all; it's basically just a set up for an extended fight sequence. It’s sort of like watching the WWE. You have your heel characters and you have your face characters, and they’re going to fight, and that’s about all there is. There isn’t anything I’d recommend about the story, but at least it doesn’t get in the way, and in this sort of movie, that’s pretty much the best you can hope for.
What Panna Rittikrai doesn’t know about storytelling he makes up for in disregard for human life. Unlike ‘Opapatika’ this sleeve does not mislead with its claim to be “By the creators of Ong Bok and The Protector.” In fact, it might as well say, “By the creator of Tony Jaa” because that’s pretty much who Panna Rittikrai is. If you don’t know it, Panna is the godfather of Thai cinema. He’s been doing action films in Thailand since the early eighties, and is largely responsible for recent explosion of cinema we see from the area. Still, he is not very well known outside of Thailand, and it’s rather difficult just to find an accurate filmography for the man, even on the modern wonder of the internets. ‘Born to Fight’ is actually a remake of one of his eighties movies (or shares the title at least, I can’t suppose their plots are all that similar.) Much of the fighting is rather silly and combines gymnastics and Thai boxing with different sports skills that the athletes in the film possess; soccer, gymnastics, rugby, and so on. But you do get to see some of the earlier attempts at what Tony Jaa would do in ‘The Protector’ like the extended single camera fight scene. A long action sequence done sans editing is always an impressive endeavor to behold, even when it isn’t perfect. Mostly, however, it is the stuntmen who destroy their bodies working on this film that make it worth seeing. I have seen a lot of martial arts movies. I own a lot of them. And I feel safe in saying that this movie has some of the most dangerous and most awe inspiring stunts I’ve ever seen. They’re so good, that I don’t want to spoil them for you. You just have to see them for yourself.
When I say the stunt work is ‘must see’ I’m not exaggerating. Even if you just look them up on Youtube, the stunt work done on this film is just so impressive that it almost makes up for a lot of its other shortcomings. There are moments when you will think “Wow, that guy should have died.” Paying to see this movie should be your way of saying “Thank you for almost getting run over by a tractor trailer truck for my entertainment. I appreciate the effort.”