Monday, January 23, 2012

Déjà vu – review

Director: Poom Opium

Release Date: 2011* (assumed)

Contains spoilers

I ordered this Thai release with hope, given the cover, that it might be rather good – yes, yes, I know… never judge a book and all that jazz. But, to be fair, it looked funky and how often do you get the concept of a naga in a film?

What, before we start, is a naga? In various traditions it is an entity that takes the form of a giant snake. More importantly in Thailand and Laos, along the Mekong, the Nāga is still revered and believed to rule in the river – This is where some of the film takes place. The film also involves vampires – hence being reviewed here.

As the film begins we see people on jet skis. Masked men fire submachine guns at a woman –Janjira Nakjit, known as Jane – who falls into the water. She is rescued by a mereman, who places something (later revealed to be the naga pearl) in her mouth and this revives her. Has this taken place? Probably not; when we meet Jane in the next scene she is a cop, transferred to the Déjà vu research centre, and doesn’t believe in occult phenomena. Yet she keeps dreaming this scene – a premonition then? If so it doesn’t actually happen in film, beyond her dreams – though she does meet the mereman in human form.

blood everywhere
A woman sits on the edge of a bath as a man drinks a brandy. The woman, Camilla, sprinkles water on her cleavage and skimpy clothing and I assume that showing her nude and in the bath was a step too far for the filmmakers. The man approaches her and they end up on the bed, her straddling him but, before the clothing can come off and the censors get upset, she produces fangs and kills him, getting blood everywhere.

Dr Chamnong and Jane
At the research centre Dr Pakorn Chamnong shows Jane an orientation video as he explains that Déjà vu investigate weird occurrences – a picture of Sir Christopher Lee as Dracula is one of the images that flash up on the screen! He shows her a picture of a corpse that has been cut at the throat and drained of blood. This was done, he says, by what they call a “suck blood monster” or vampire. He thinks it has something to do with a picture found at the scene. The picture is a real picture often found in Thai bars and restaurants and inscribed with the legend “Queen of Nagas, seized by the American Army, Mekong River at Laos military base, June 27th 1973, with a length of 7.80 metres”. Actually the picture is a hoax and is of a group of Navy Seal trainees with an oarfish they found, in California, in 1996. This, however, is the basis of the film.

fangs on display
So what is going on? That is difficult to say as the film wasn’t particularly forthcoming plot wise and the subtitles were poor, to say the very least. Camilla is known to Déjà vu, she is from Romania – a child of a Romanian and a Thai parent. She contracted vampirism and must feed on a full moon. Although she seems to feed more regularly, she gains her powers from the act of blood drinking at the specific point in the lunar cycle. The vampires are daywalkers but they are mortal and need the naga pearl to become immortal.

Lara... oops... I mean Jane
Now, when they said mortal I can only assume that they will age and die, because they were impervious to bullets. They can turn into crap bats and Camilla’s hands pass through a mattress, at one point, from under the bed in order that she might strangle Jane. They move at jerky fast speed and yet must chase down enemies – so they aren’t really going that fast.

mind holograms?
They are tracking down anyone who might know, or have been involved with, the capture of the queen naga and this search takes them (and Jane as well) to a certain Mr Rachain – the son of the captain of the fishing expedition, and a mereman it transpires. As for what else is going on… I don't really know. We can take the character Frank as an example of the film's inability to explain events. He is Jane’s partner in déjà vu and is a computer geek who at one point is asked to look at something... and seems to create a holographic aquarium, which fills the tent the characters sit in, with his mind. Jane touches a fish and is told not to touch anything else but we are not told what has happened, how it has been done or what its relevance is.

a batfink moment
Jane comes across like a Thai version of Lara Croft, complete with short shorts, vest and thigh strapped gun. Camilla at one point raises a cape to deflect bullets ala batfink, at another point stopping them with bullet time effects and yet, when a vampire is hit by a bullet they are not even phased. The good and bad guys are the worst shots ever, it seems, releasing clip after never-ending clip with a hit rate less than the A team and Jane seems to have access to a ready supply of grenades (though where she kept them is probably best not contemplated).

When the ending came around (which involved a trip to another dimension – where they would never return from – to walk through a jungle, avoid two wooden traps and then return to our dimension) I was left wondering what the Hell had just gone on. Badly shot, badly acted, bad subtitles, poor effects and no proper story. Oh dear, oh dear. 1 out of 10 (as Camilla is hot).

At the time of review there is no IMDb page for the film.


Abhijeet Nazar said...

where can i order ?

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Hi Abhijeet. I ordered it from a Thai online store