A few years ago Prachya Pinkaew gave us two movies propelling Tony Jaa into super-stardom, well at least inside martial arts circles; Ong Bak and Tom yum goong. These movies were a series of martial arts sequences tied together with a plot so thin it makes toilet paper look like cardboard. That’s not a bad thing; these movies are about incredible skilled fighters doing amazing stuff without the help of wire-fu. To put in a real plot will only make the movie collapse under it’s own weight. Just take a look at Ong Bak 2, writted, directed and featuring Tony Jaa himself, for a perfect example. Luckily Chocolate doesn’t go down that way.
The story: Zen is an autistic girl who’s living with her mother. She used to be affiliated with the Yakuza but no more. This resulted in her missing her big toe and a limp. Despite being a mentally handicapped girl, Zen has the gift to master movements she sees happening. So when she watches people kickboxing or watching Tony Jaa movies (clever re-use of parts of the two previous movies made by the director) she has the ability to perform the same moves, like the black girl from Heroes, only retarded. She makes some money with her nephew by demonstrating her reflexes on the street where people can throw objects at her which she all catches without looking at them, without blinking her eyes even. But it’s just petty cash. Large amounts of cash is needed when her mother is sick of cancer and needs medicines. These do not come cheap. So while her mother’s in bed Zen and nephew Mang Moom find a booklet with a list of people who owe mommy still money. Why mommy didn’t collect herself is a mystery, I’m sure the book belonged to the Yakuza so it actually never was her money to begin with but that is never really revealed. So Zen and Mang Moom go out to ask for the money back which, as you might imagine, nobody gives up without a fight. What ensues is fight scene after fight scene in which the environment is put to good use and we get to see that Tony Jaa has a female counterpart named JeeJa Yanin playing a martial arts Rain Man.
Clocking in at ± 80 minutes Chocolate does not overstay it’s welcome. After a quick setup we really go from actionsequence to actionsequence, some dangling on the border of too long and just right. The plot is just a means of getting Zen to display her skills. A variety of opponents is supplied for Zen to dispose of, some memorable, most of them not. The fun in these movies come from the way people are disposed of, Zen has a couple disposalmoves that will make you laugh. The sets are suited perfectly to the action onscreen, the finale on the ledges of a building being a memorable highlight. These movies are not so much about acting as they are about fighting and since it is in a language I can’t understand it’s hard to judge. Zen had an easy job playing a retard as it acquires her just to look frightened and scream a lot but other than that it’s hard to say. What I do know is that I had fun watching the movie but was glad that it was over, because it should not have lasted any longer. They had a simple plot and got everything from it they could have, and so do we know.