With heavy bloodletting and even heavier schmaltz, "The King Maker" is an awkwardly executed costumer about a Portuguese mercenary in Siam, 1547. Only the third Thai film ever shot in English, and the first since 1941's "Kingdom of the White Elephant," this 40 million baht production doesn't scrimp on large-scale battle scenes but is severely hampered by Thai thesps struggling with the imposed lingo.

With heavy bloodletting and even heavier schmaltz, “The King Maker” is an awkwardly executed costumer about a Portuguese mercenary in Siam, 1547. Only the third Thai film ever shot in English, and the first since 1941’s “Kingdom of the White Elephant,” this 40 million baht ($10 million) production doesn’t scrimp on large-scale battle scenes but is severely hampered by Thai thesps struggling with the imposed lingo. Pic failed to spark locally late last year, and looks like an ancillary item at best elsewhere.

Based on events prior to the ascension of Thailand’s current dynasty, pic finds hunky Fernando De Gama (British pug-turned-thesp Gary Stretch) looking for action in Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital. When not making eyes at beautiful Miriam Del Toro (1996 Miss World Cindy Burbridge, debuting), Fernando is embroiled in the schemes of palace hottie, Queen Sudachan (newcomer Yossawadee Hassadeevichit). With dialogue like a romance novel, pic fails to convince as a history lesson or romantic swashbuckler. Second-billed John Rhys-Davies has little to do as Miriam’s devious dad. Transfer from HD is technically impressive and location shooting in the old capital can’t help but catch the eye.

The King Maker

Thailand

Production

An Indisporne production. (International Sales: Indisporne, Bangkok.) Produced by David Winters. Executive producer, Andre Bachtiari. Directed by Lek Kitiparaporn. Screenplay, Sean J. Casey.

Crew

Camera (color, HD-to-35mm), Jiradet Samnaengsanor; editor, William Watts; music, Jan Livingstone; production designer, Wongtawon Chewin; art director, Sarunnon-r-kas; costume designer, Chartchai Chaiyon. Reviewed at Bangkok Film Festival (Windows on the World), Feb. 22, 2006. English dialogue. Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Gary Stretch, John Rhys-Davies, Cindy Burbridge, Yossawadee Hassadeevichit, Dom Hetrakul, Akara Amarttayakul, Nirut Sirichanya, Amora Assawanon, Oliver Pupart.
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