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Source:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/entertainment/movie/35479/elephant-white-trumpets-thai-cinema

Elephant White trumpets Thai cinema

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Elephant White trumpets Thai cinema

  • Published: 2/04/2010 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: Realtime

Last week in an alley of Bangkok's old district, not so far from the red shirts' street protests, Kevin Bacon shoved his way through ancient vendors as he was hotly pursued by Djimon Hounsou. Four cameras (four!) recorded their nocturnal chase sequence as director Prachya Pinkaew sat glued to the monitors and presided over the filming of this Bangkok-set American film called, for now, Elephant White.

Man of action: Prachya Pinkaew helms the Bangkok-set American film Elephant White.

"I went to the rally today," said Bacon during a break, explaining that he was kind of running into the crowd of red shirts. "I don't really have enough of the knowledge of the political situation to have an opinion. But I find it fascinating, historically and culturally. [The protesters] seem very peaceful."

"It looks very civil to me," said Hounsou, who plays the lead in Elephant White, and is perhaps best known for his roles in Amistad and Blood Diamond.

Prachya Pinkaew, local talent who was hired by a Hollywood-based producer to direct this action film set entirely in Bangkok, said the protests hadn't affected the filming, which began in mid-March and will continue until late April. "Except some traffic and a minor location change, the protests didn't hurt us," said the filmmaker. "We can solely focus on working."

Elephant White (the title may change, according to the film's publicist) stars Hounsou as Curtie Church, a mercenary hired for a revenge mission in Bangkok. Bacon plays Jimmy the Brit, a long-time expat and contact point from whom Curtie will retrieve a weapon. There are local gangsters, double-crosses, guns and girls and, of course, a foot chase through the maze of old buildings in Chinatown.

The film is set for release next year.

Prachya's credentials include his helming of realistic, fang-and-elbow action flicks Ong-Bak, which was a global hit, and Tom Yum Goong, which also picked up a US release and lit a firework over the reputation of Siamese action cinema.

Apparently it's the director's style of quick, authentic fist fights and free-running pursuits that earned him the job with the American movie.

"I saw Ong-Bak and I thought it was a fantastic movie," said Bacon. "I'm excited to be working with Prachya. He's very good with the camera. Some of the stuff he's been doing is kind of groundbreaking; [he knows how to create] remarkable shots."

"The set is very professionally run," said Prachya. "Everybody knows their job and it's very systematic. We have more Thai crew yet we have a number of key persons who're from the US.

"It's my first time directing a non-Thai film, and it's been a very good experience."

In Tom Yum Goong, Prachya directed Thai action maverick Jaa Panom, aka Tony Jaa, in a wild-goose-chase saga about a man and his lost elephant. It looks like the pachyderm is the director's mascot - a "symbol" of Thailand that foreigners never tire of seeing. There will be an actual white elephant in Elephant White, and we're looking forward to seeing it.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Kong Rithdee
Position: Real Time Reporter

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