Elephant White (2011) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Djimon Hounsou makes for an effective action hero in his genre debut playing an emotionally stifled assassin. Hired by a businessman to avenge the murder of his daughter by white slave traders in Thailand. This handsome looking film is heavy on the mysticism and religious symbolism. Director Prachya Pinkaew infuses the picture with an insiders eye for the steamy streets and back-alley dealings in Bangkok. Having helmed ‘Ong Bak’ it’s apparent Pinkaew is particularly proficient in lensing action.

Kevin Bacon shows up as an ex-CIA agent gone rouge living the cover of an English arms dealer. His appearance is a welcomed site and he seems to be enjoying himself while spitting out a cockney accent that sounds like something from a Guy Ritchie film. The script credited to writer/actor Kevin Bernhardt (loved this guy in ‘Hellraiser 3’) is adequate; the story of an outsider hired to instigate a war between two gangs has been covered before. However adding a sidekick that may or may not be a spiritual force is a nice touch. Taking bits from ‘Death Takes a Holiday’ and ‘Yojimbo’ this mystical/action hybrid is very intriguing if you can get past the somewhat awkward opening passage.

The idiom ‘White Elephant’ is defined as a possession unwanted by the owner, but difficult to dispose of. The title can be seen as a metaphor for the assassin’s conscious or the burdensome girl who questions his every move. Either way it’s a tip-off that this above average direct-to DVD offering has a lot more going on for it than most entries in this overcrowded genre. An interesting and explosive film that is far superior to the ‘Bangkok Dangerous’ remake from a few years back.

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Djimon Hounsou, Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul

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