Saturday, July 13, 2013

This Girl is Badass (live action movie), via Netflix

This Girl is Badass is a Thai comedy. It's the first Thai movie I've ever seen – a big mistake on my part. With comedies, it's usually best if you have some understanding of the culture they come from, and I have zero knowledge of Thai culture.

Jukkalan is a bike messenger who often delivers things for various groups of gangsters. The movie begins with lots of action scenes, presumably to demonstrate that she is, in fact, “badass.” She can do amazing tricks on her bike (I was left wondering how many of those tricks were even possible) and, when one of the gangsters sends his men after her to cheat her out of the money she just earned from him, she beats all of them up.

In addition to Jukkalan, the movie has a fairly big cast of characters:
  • Two groups of gangsters, one headed by a guy with an absurdly high voice and one headed by a guy who seems to mostly employ women (he has a group of female assassins on hand).
  • Uncle Wang, who is basically Jukkalan's surrogate father. He has a huge crush on a lady who owns a laundry cleaning business.
  • Duan – A guy who has been in love with Jukkalan ever since she saved him from a bunch of bullies when they were kids.
  • The handsome musician Jukkalan is in love with.
  • Jukkalan's boss, who dresses in embarrassing costumes.
In general, Jukkalan was badass. She fought multiple guys in several action scenes, and, although she did get an assist near the end of the movie, she was primarily the one who saved herself and everyone around her. And none of her fight scenes were set up to make her look like a sex goddess. I liked that. However, I disliked Jukkalan's tendency to lose a few brain cells whenever she was around the musician she had a crush on – it knocked her badass ranking down a few notches. Thankfully, Jukkalan's reaction to him was at its worst the first time she had a scene with him and got better later on, but that first scene was so bad that I wished the entire romance storyline had been left out. It's not like it even amounted to much beyond an ongoing joke.

The humor in this didn't really work for me, although it's entirely possible that the translation had a lot to do with it. Humor is difficult to translate well, and I don't think whoever wrote the subtitles for this movie was up to the challenge. There were a few lines that even I could tell were clumsily translated, and the time it took my brain to figure out what was being said meant that the humor, what there was of it, was lost on me.

Considering the subject of some of the jokes, though, I'm not sure how much I would have liked them even if awkward translation hadn't been a factor. The humor in this movie is pretty broad and, at times, dark. There are sexual jokes (one gang boss accuses Jukkalan of stealing from him, but his wording makes it sound like he's saying that she gave him a blow job), and jokes that rely on the audience finding particular aspects of characters funny (the high-voiced gang boss, little people training as boxers, Jukkalan's horrifyingly dressed boss, etc.). It just didn't work for me.

Jukkalan's fight scenes were, for me, the best parts of the whole movie, although I couldn't help but wonder how she had managed to get so good with a gun, since it didn't seem like Uncle Wang would have been willing to teach her. I might have reached the end of this movie just feeling so-so about it, except for several things that happened near the end. One, who was the random guy being beaten while Jukkalan was in the warehouse avoiding being killed? Two, one of the fights between a random gangster woman and random gangster guy was absolutely disgusting. The guy fondled the woman's breast as they were fighting and then, when they simultaneously killed each other (or passed out?), they fell in such a way that their bloody lips pressed together. Not funny. Three, if I understood things right, Uncle Wang used to be an assassin and was responsible for the death of the husband of the woman he's currently in love with. You'd think the woman would find out at some point, there'd be lots of drama, and either she'd push him away or somehow come to forgive him. Instead, Uncle Wang and the woman ended up together without this bit of nastiness ever being dealt with.

All in all, this movie did not work for me.

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