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Kino on Video presents
Hit Man File (2005)

"Take him to the hospital. Hurry!"
- Tanthai (Chatchai Plengpanit)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 09, 2005

Stars: Chatchai Plengpanit, Saranyoo Wongkrachang, Suntisuk Promsiri, Bongkot Khongmalai
Other Stars: Pitisak Yaowanont, Nirut Sirichanya, Sompop Benjatikul, Thanit Jitnukul
Director: Sananjit Bangsapan

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:31m:16s
Release Date: November 08, 2005
UPC: 738329042929
Genre: foreign

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The gangster film has been done to death by filmmakers from all continents. Nothing will ever come close to The Godfather films, or the wonderful yakuza films that Takashi Miike has unleashed upon us over the last decade or so. This genre of film is a dime a dozen, and about 90 percent of them aren't worth your hard-earned money. Still, every now and then a nice, fresh entry comes along to remind us what made gangster films so appealing in the first place.

Hit Man File is one of those nice surprises, a product of Thai director Sananjit Bangsapan. The Thai film community received a nice boost in relevance when Ong Bak received a wide theatrical release in the U.S. While Hit Man File didn't benefit from such a release, it is receiving a nice DVD release, courtesy of one of the bigger independent film distributors, Kino.

The story centers on ex-Communist guerrilla Tanthai (Chatchai Plengpanit), who has spent his post-revolutionary time as a hit man, tackling every assignment that comes his way via a nightclub manager named Chaba (Bongkot Khongmalai). Tanthai's new assignment is to take out a triad boss knee-deep in the drug trade. While this wouldn't seem farfetched for a gangster, a more conservative group is against his drug dealing. This dissension among the various groups puts the unwitting Tanthai in the middle of a gang war, turning the tables and making him the target.

Hit Man File is an interesting and very engaging crime drama, but the one place it stumbles is in the over-complexity of the plot. I'm all for a plot that takes some thought to figure out and a series of characters that you have to at least slightly struggle to get a feel for, but these people are just too difficult to grasp individually. It's definitely not a bad idea to write down some of the characters' names, because you might need to reference your paper later in the film. Granted, most people won't want to take notes in order to follow a movie, but in this case, the extra effort is worth it.

There are plenty of reasons to recommend the film though, including the incredible soundtrack by Thai composer Chatchai Pongprapaphan. His music perfectly connects with all of the action, and adds to the excitement during the various gun battles and other action sequences. This score meshes so well with the gorgeous looking sets and locations that it's difficult to turn away at any point.

Also, Chatchai Plengpanit's wonderful portrayal of Tanthai is one of the best versions of a hit man I've seen in a film. He is a revolutionary without a revolution, constantly striving to find an identity both in society and within himself. This is a man only good at killing, and in his new life he can never get comfortable—the epitome of a rebel without a cause. Plengpanit brings the perfect blend of toughness and vulnerability to this complex character.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is superb. The dirty, crime-ridden streets of Thailand are perfectly represented, with all of the blacks, grays, and other dark hues perfectly rendered. I didn't notice any dirt or grain either, which was a nice surprise given that this is a low-budget, foreign release.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Thaino

Audio Transfer Review: The Thai-language audio comes to us in Dolby Digital 2.0 and does a nice job representing the film's excellent music, but a 5.1 mix would have given it a bit more flair. Still, the surrounds are active enough, and the dialogue is clear enough to make the mix effective overall.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dead or Alive, Tell Me Something, Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Stills Gallery
Extras Review: The only extras are a stills gallery, the theatrical trailer for Hit Man File, and previews for other Asian films from Kino Video.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

If you can get past the slightly thick plot structure and myriad of characters, Hit Man File is one of the more rewarding gangster films in recent memory. Kino's DVD release allows the wonderful cinematography to shine, thanks to an excellent video transfer, and the audio does its part to allow the excellent score to work its magic. Unfortunately, there aren't any extras, but this is a Thai picture that is definitely worth a look.


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