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Chumpae
Choompae / Choom Pae

Thailand 1976
produced by
Suntisucha
starring Sombat Methanee, Nart Puwanai, Piyamas Monyakul, Kecha Plianvithee, Lak Apichart, Darm Dassakorn
based on the novel by Sak Suriya

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Pherg (Sombat Methanjee), a small time gangster, comes back to his hometown Chumpae (hence the title) to avenge the death of his father. But the killer of his father, Tom (Kecha Plianvithee), then a cop, is now the top mobster of the whole village, controlling all crime and now trying to get his hands on the local bus service ... by means not quite legal of course. And Tom wants Pherg dead. Now Pherg could of course turn to the police, since Captain Chaiyo is an honest and incorrupptible man - but Chaiyo is in love with Tom's daughter Duangporn, and Tom requests of Chaiyo to kill Pherg, otherwise he mustn't see his daughter ever again ... And white Chaiyo refuses to kill Pherg without any legal reason, Tom's threat to marry his daughter off to someone else also clouds his mind and doesn't let him see Pherg's side of things.

But as if that wasn't bad enough, there is even Puyai Sua and his gang of outlaws, who commit crimes in the village disguised and Pherg and gang, which soon tarnishes the reputation Pherg has with the locals.

Still, Pherg finds ways to keep Tom and his men from overtaking the bus business, and repeatedly kidnap his men, then even his girlfriend Vaewdaw (who will eventually turn out to be an undercover cop) and his daughter Duangporn, to get information about his evildoings ... and Pherg even manages to convert one of Tom's men, Don, to his side - something Don later thanks him by saving his life when he is supposed to blow up a bridge Pherg is supposed to be crossing - in an extended and quite entertaining set-piece that contains young Praew, who's secretly in love with Pherg, chasing after his car on foot, later getting captured by Tom's men and raped (off-screen), then giving her own life to save Don's, and then  Don has to escape the gang jumping onto a driving bus, and when he still has not succeeded, jumping from the bus onto a truck driving in the opposite direction ...

Eventually, Pherg plays all sides against each other, first capturing both Tom and Puyai Sua - the false, evil Pherg -, and letting their respective gangs know where he keeps them ... so they shoot it out between each other, both gangs thinking they are going up against Pherg's gang. Meanwhile, Pherg has the police search Tom's and Puyai Sua's places to gather evidence against them both.

Finally, when Tom and Puyai Sua have been freed by their gangs who have noticed their error and have teamed up, Pherg lures them to a quarry, but instead of catching Pherg there, the baddies are met by the police, led by Captain Chaiyo, who has seen the error of his ways after Tom has promised his daughter to hitman Phu if he brings him the head of Pherg. Need I say it, it all ends in a giant shoot-out, with the goodies winning over the baddies in the end ... and in the very end, Pherg turns out to be a police officer, and as a reward he gets Vaewdaw (remember, Tom's girlfriend who eventually turned out to be a police officer).

 

If you think from this synopsis that Chumpae is a naive, simplistic and violent (if not all that explicit) gangster shoot-em-up, you are essentially right of course, but if you are willing to watch the movie nevertheless, you might still find it entertaining: Somehow this film feels like the relentless stream of action of a good movie serial (including many cliffhanger situations) paired with the stoic antiheroism of the Spaghetti Western ... of course with a blend like this there is not much room for dilligent characterisations or an inventive storyline. But what you will get is a fast-paced actionflick full of chases and shoot-outs and the like, directed with enough care and love for the genre to make this one mindless but enjoyable ride ... and the Thais must have liked the film as well, as it did become the biggest grossing Thai movie of its time.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD