Headshot (2011)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 12-Sep-2012

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Featurette-Making Of-Headshot and the Karma Bullet
Featurette-The Strange Case of Uncle Khata
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 101:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pen-Ek Ratanaruang
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Nopachai Chaiyanam
Sirin Horwang
Chanokporn Sayoungkul
Apisit Opasaimlikit
Kiat Punpiputt
Theeradanai Suwannahom
Nadim Xavier Salhani
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Vichaya Vatanasapt


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Thai Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Thai policeman Tul (Nopachai Chaiyanam) takes down a drug operation run by the brother of a government minister. When he refuses a huge bribe to drop the case, he is framed for the murder of Tiwa (Chanokporn Sayoungkul), a hooker, and sent to gaol. Tiwa, in fact, is not dead and visits Tul in gaol, and upon his release they start a relationship. Wanting revenge and despairing of Thai justice, Tul is recruited as a hitman by an organisation, run by the mysterious Dr. Suang (Kiat Punpiputt), that dispenses their own brand of justice by assassinating people they believe are guilty of serious crimes but are above the law. When Tul kills a prominent politician he is shot in the head. Coming out of a coma three months later he discovers that he sees everything upside down. He tries to resume his previous occupation for Dr. Suang but now has doubts about killing and his past life, so quits. But someone is unwilling to let Tul leave his old life behind and he is abducted and tortured by a man seeking information. Tul escapes and hijacks a car driven by Rin (Sirin Horwang). Taken into the countryside, to atone for his sins he takes up the austere life of a Buddhist monk. But again, retribution for his past is not far away.

     This synopsis may make it sound that Thai thriller Headshot is a straightforward film; in truth it is anything but. Headshot, in fact, is an impressive, clever piece of filmmaking from writer / director Pen-ek Ratanaruang based upon the novel Fon Tok Kuen Fah by Vichaya Vatanasapt, a popular author in Thailand. The film advertises itself as “a crime noir” and indeed has many noirish elements; a fractured chronology, a voiceover narration, lots of darkness and shadows, females who are not what they seem and a haunting, melancholy score.

     Indeed, Headshot is more of a character drama than a straight out action thriller. Here, the film is well served by Nopachai Chaiyanam, required to play in a myriad of time frames and states of mind. This is, clearly, Chaiyanam’s picture. The story is told entirely from Tul’s perspective, and we see nothing he does not see, although the storytelling is not chronological; the film starts half way through with the hit that puts Tul into the coma and works backwards and forwards from there, frequently jumbling storylines and images as it gradually reveals its plot and themes. Chaiyanam is always interesting to watch and he holds the film together well and while the women, Chanokporn Sayoungkul and Sirin Horwang, look good they don’t have a lot to do.

     Headshot does have impressive action sequences; they are not stylish or balletic, but sudden, sharp and chaotic. These sequences are filmed with handheld jerky cam, which in this case is appropriate and is in contrast with the non-action sequences which are often shot in long slow, meditative takes, many times with the actor’s back to the camera. Sometimes, however, it seems that the plot is secondary to mood and atmosphere although what initially seem to be coincidences turn out to be anything but. Mostly set on the night time rainy back streets, warehouses and rooms of Bangkok, the colour palate is one of muted dark colours with a frequent play upon shadows and light, although this is not overdone. The music by Vichaya Vatanasapt is atmospheric and thoughtful, without being aggressive or bombastic.

     The film plays with a number of interesting themes and includes a meditation upon the vigilante argument: is it justice to execute those who are believed to be corrupt, and does this make you corrupt yourself ? Tul’s world, quite literally, is turned upside down but it is this event that allows Tul to see his values more clearly. What starts out as a quest for revenge turns into a search for redemption with Buddhist overtones and monks, or pretend monks, feature on a number of occasions.

     Headshot is an impressive crime thriller from Thailand with something interesting to say. The questions it raises, as well as the filmmaking itself, elevates Headshot above the raft of mindless thrillers; it may be too talky and cerebral for those desiring their action films straight forward but for those prepared to think the film has its rewards. If the plotting is sometimes less successful than its mood, atmosphere and ideas, Headshot certainly marks director Pen-ek Ratanaruang and principal actor Nopachai Chaiyanam as people to watch. If you are looking for an action thriller that is a little different, you can do far worse than Headshot.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

     Headshot is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is often soft looking, although close up detail is good. Much of the film is set on the night time rainy back streets and warehouses of Bangkok and the colour palate is one of muted dark colours. There is little vibrant colour, even Bangkok driving shots appear to be in the early hours of the morning with muted light. When the film ventures into the Thai countryside the colours are lighter, but even the major shootout takes place at night in rain in a forest, so everything is dark and grey / blue. It is therefore just as well that blacks are solid and shadow detail, while not perfect, is good. Skin tones look accurate within the colour palate, brightness and contrast are consistent.

     There was a spot of aliasing on blinds and slight ghosting with movement against backgrounds such as a wire fence, and the end credits evinced some shimmer. Otherwise I did not notice any film or film to video artefacts.

     The English subtitles for the dialogue are in a yellow font, while white captions gave the time line (“ seven years before”) and translated some Thai writing. I noticed one spelling mistake, “dosen’t” for “doesn’t” at 79:05, but otherwise there were no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

     The print is fine for a low budget film from Thailand.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice between Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and Thai Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps. The 5.1 audio will not rock the room but it does a good job. Dialogue was clear and the Foley effects have separation and good clarity. The surrounds are constantly in use for music and ambient sound such as rain. The sub woofer did support the music but was otherwise not very aggressive. The 2.0 track is surround encoded but not surprisingly lacked the depth of the 5.1.

     The music by Vichaya Vatanasapt is a wonderful support for the visuals. It is atmospheric and thoughtful without being aggressive or bombastic. It is nicely rendered in the sound mix.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The audio was good, without any problems.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Headshot and the Karma Bullet (25:31)

     Extensive interviews with writer / director Pen-ek Ratanaruang, cinematographer Chankit Chamnivikaipong and actor Nopachai Chaiyanam plus behind the scenes footage of the making of the film. Items discussed include the genesis of the film, deliberately making a noir film, the Buddhist ideas of karma, corruption in Thai politics and society, the concept of justice, the upside down metaphor and the ending. By no means an EPK, this is an insightful and interesting look at the concepts within the film.

The Strange Case of Uncle Khata (3:10)

     Footage of a man in Thailand who really reads and writes upside down. Some issues with the sound part way through.

Trailer (2:01)

Eastern Eye Trailers

     Trailers for other films from Madman: The Raid (1:46), Haunters (1:38), Outrage (2:02) and Bangkok Knockout (1:39).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US DVD release of Headshot adds an English dub but comes with only the trailer and a stills gallery. There is currently no listed Region 2 UK version. Unless you really prefer not to read subtitles our Region 4 DVD is a clear winner.

Summary

     Headshot is an impressive thriller that marks director Pen-ek Ratanaruang and principal actor Nopachai Chaiyanam as people to watch. If you are looking for an action thriller that is a little different, you can do far worse than Headshot.

     The DVD has good video and audio and includes a genuine, interesting extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, November 23, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Pen-ek Ratanaruang...a director to watch?! - REPLY POSTED