×

Dang Bireley’s and Young Gangsters

Thailand's highest-grossing homemade hit is a slick, highly commercial take on youth gangs in the 1950s and early '60s. Tech values are uniformly glossy, and there are a few memorable set pieces (usually with bullets flying), but pic covers ground so familiar to Western auds that there's not much chance of it attracting offshore interest, even in fest settings.

Thailand’s highest-grossing homemade hit is a slick, highly commercial take on youth gangs in the 1950s and early ’60s. Tech values are uniformly glossy, and there are a few memorable set pieces (usually with bullets flying), but pic covers ground so familiar to Western auds that there’s not much chance of it attracting offshore interest, even in fest settings.

Helmer Nonzee Nimibutr comes from a TV-ad and musicvid background, and it shows in the slo-mo gun blasts, hyped-up close-ups and choreographed crowd scenes that pepper this routine urban actioner, based on the ostensibly true tale of high school pals who grow up to be bitter enemies.

Jesdaporn Pholdee has the requisite charisma as tough young Dang, nicknamed for the Orange soda he favors (not that this explains the title entirely). Raised in poverty, Dang gets a rep early on, defending his prostitute mom from thugs, and later he runs the show at the local polytechnic. His loyal cohort Piak cautions him about potential treachery from their classmates Lam, Dum and the always-preening Pu Bottle Bomb (shouldn’t that name be warning enough?), but it’s not until they’re kicked out of school and running various rackets that their incipient rivalry boils into outright warfare.

The sad saga of Dang and his hangdog gang-bangers will be very familiar to Westerners, right down to the greased-back hair, Elvis records and James Dean posters. Helmer, while trying to be a Southeast Asian Scorsese, does surprisingly little to put a specifically Thai twist on things, except in pic’s implicit criticism of government and business corruption.

Another intriguing element — Dang’s mom pushing him to be ordained as a Buddhist monk — is used more for its pictorial potential, leading up to a bloody climax, than for any genuine soul-searching. The pic is also saddled with iffy acting, especially on the distaff side, and the usual fractured subtitles (“I’ll get more helper soonest,” says one confident boss).

Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters

(THAI)

Production: A Tai Entertainment (Bangkok) production. Produced by Yisute Poolvoralaks. Directed by Nonzee Nimibutr. Screenplay, Wisid Sarsanatiang, based on a story by Suriyan Saktaisong.

Crew: Camera (color), Winai Patomboon; editor, Sunit Ussavinkul; production design, Ek Eiamchurn; music, Orange Music; art direction, Ake Aiamcheen; costumes, Bunluesak Hirunratana; sound, Ramintra Sound Studio. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival (competing), Oct. 6, 1997. (Also in London Film Festival.) Running time: 110 MIN.

With: With: Jesdaporn Pholdee, Noppachai Muttaweevong, Attaporn Teemakorn, Suppakorn Kitsuwan, Chatchai Ngarmsun, Apichart Choosakul, Champaign X.

More Film

  • BOTM-Eve-Viper-Gang

    Director Angus Gibson: My Audience is ‘Young, Black South Africans’

    DURBAN–Sophiatown, 1958. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, as the apartheid police prepare to demolish the community at the heart of black South African cultural and intellectual life, a notorious gang leader is determined to make a last stand. Resisting the forced evictions that will transport the residents of Sophiatown to a desolate township miles away, [...]

  • marvel

    Marvel Phase 4 Plan Revealed, But Comic-Con’s Big Winner is Disney Plus

    In a triumphant return to the San Diego Comic-Con main stage, leadership at Marvel Studios managed some splashy surprises and showed off risky creative bets for the next two years of content coming from the superhero operation. But the biggest takeaway from the Saturday presentation inside Hall H was how important Marvel will make Disney [...]

  • Florence Pugh, O. T. Fagbenle, Rachel

    'Black Widow': Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh Go Head-to-Head in First Footage

    Marvel’s “Black Widow” has only been in production for a month, but studio president Kevin Feige still delivered the goods for fans at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Filmmakers brought an intense sizzle reel of on-location shots, kicked off by a dazzling and bone-crushing fight sequence between lead Scarlett Johansson and her on-screen sister Florence [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor

    Natalie Portman Returns for 'Thor: Love and Thunder' as Female Thor

    Natalie Portman is coming back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she’s no one’s love interest this time around. The Oscar winner will play a female god of thunder in the fourth film from the Chris Hemsworth series, titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Portman hit the stage at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday to great [...]

  • Fantastic Four

    New 'Fantastic Four' Movie in Development at Marvel

    Marvel is going back to the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that a new movie based on the superhero group is in the works at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Further details, however, including a release date, were not revealed. It marks the first Fox property for Disney to mine since the [...]

  • Mahershala AliMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Mahershala Ali to Star in Marvel's 'Blade' Reboot

    Marvel is rebooting the “Blade” series, and has cast Mahershala Ali to star. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced the news at Comic-Con on Saturday as the panel’s big ending surprise. Ali also took the stage at the announcement to massive applause, donning the Blade baseball cap. Wesley Snipes previously played the half-vampire superhero in [...]

  • Doctor Strange

    'Doctor Strange' Sequel Billed as First MCU Horror Film at Comic-Con

    A sequel to “Doctor Strange” was announced as expected on Saturday at Marvel’s Comic-Con panel — what we didn’t see coming was the tone. Director Scott Derrickson said the film, titled “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” will mine the original comics and play up “the gothic, the horror.” Derrickson said it will lead [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content