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Case Number 21035

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The Vanquisher (Blu-Ray)

Magnolia Pictures // 2009 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // April 1st, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson vanquished a steak burrito last night.

The Charge

Vengeance never looked so good.

Opening Statement

My moderately high expectations for this release—produced by the Baa-Ram-Ewe studio (Ong Bak), imported by Magnet, featuring a hot Thai bad-ass girl with swords on the cover—were almost immediately exploded with an IED and urinated upon. This is a Biblically awful movie.

Facts of the Case

The plot is an exercise in incoherence, but this is what I was able to glean: Gunja (Sophita Sriban) is a top-level Thai secret agent and she is ordered to meet up with Claire, a female super-agent from the CIA. The two are sent on a mission to kill a terrorist, but Claire has been given orders to shutter the op and Gunja survives and carries a grudge until two years later when they intersect during a pursuit of yet another terrorist.

In addition, there's a Japanese crime boss, his lethal female enforcer, a hitman with a speech impediment, two hackers and an exploding train.

The Evidence

Set aside all hope that a serviceable actioner awaits you; Vanquisher is terrible. The only salvage operation left is to siphon laughter at its expense, squeeze a few drops of entertainment out of the rotten husk of a ridiculous attempt at cinematic adequacy.

First the good news: the acting is so cataclysmically bad that, yes, you will be able to beckon a few of your idiot friends over to watch, mouths agape, as each actor vomits out clumsy dialogue with the verbal acumen of a honey badger. The unfortunate stiff saddled with portraying the CIA director alone sets a new standard for horrifying line reading.

So that's the silver lining, that the movie is so god-awful, inadvertent chortling can be undertaken. Too bad the cloud is a roiling thunderhead that wants to ruin your day and drown out that slight possibility of mirth with a cold deluge of pain.

Look, these Thai action films rarely boast wondrous screenplays, but most of the storylines are easy enough to unravel. In Vanquisher the back-and-forth is chaotic and convoluted and the more brainpower I applied to unraveling the complexities of the narrative, the less it all made sense and the stronger my migraine pounded.

What is inexcusable is how boring it all is. You won't get a sniff of action until the halfway point and after all that waiting, the mayhem proves to be sad display. According to the disc case, Sophita Sriban is an "explosive martial arts star," but whether her talents were over-hyped or the fight choreographer didn't give her enough to do, she fails to impress. Lucky for her, the rest of the action is lifeless, with hand-to-hand sequences choppy, uninspired and wire-assisted and the centerpiece exploding train scene a pathetic display of substandard visual effects.

The Blu-ray is a slim affair, beginning with the fine, yet entirely forgettable 1.78:1, 1080p transfer. Colors and details are soft and anytime effects work springs to life, the enhanced resolution utterly sells them out. Audio comes from an English and Thai 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (characters slip in and out with both languages), kicking in a suitable cacophony when scenes turn frantic. Extras include a brief making-of featurette and some behind-the-scenes footage, both presented in standard definition.

Closing Statement

Resist the cleavage; avoid Vanquisher at all costs.

The Verdict

Guilty. Between this rubbish and Ong Bak 3 my confidence in Thai action cinema has taken a flying elbow to the skull.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 70
Acting: 10
Story: 40
Judgment: 30

Perp Profile

Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Thai)
• English
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Foreign

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• Trailer
• BD-Live


• IMDb

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