CHOCOLATE (2008)

Chocolate Poster

Chocolate is a thrifted movie that, I’m not going to lie, sat on my shelf for years without me watching it. After rescuing it from the death of one of my favorite movie rental stores in town, my husband had it as part of his collection. The cover is unassuming and doesn’t tell me much about the movie. It’s an Asian woman with a short bob haircut glaring at the camera and holding a katana in an aggressive stance.

Even online, if one Google searches for “Chocolate movie”, a load of hits comes up for that underwhelming Johnny Depp film. Chocolate is the name of the Asian martial arts film directed by Prachya Pinkaew, starring Jeeja Yanin (Triple Threat, Red Pheonix), credited here as Yanin Vismitananda. But the film also goes by the title Fury in some areas of the world. A stunningly inventive, fun martial arts film, Chocolate is a furious hit that every martial-arts movie enthusiast should see.

Chocolate 1

Chocolate’s plot is easy enough to follow, with a lot of room for some ass-kicking. Zin (Ammara Siripong) is the Thai lover of a Yakuza boss, Masashi (Hiroshi Abe, Godzilla 2000). Previously, she was in a relationship with the mysterious No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong), gang leader of a Thai crime syndicate. She goes back to her Yakuza lover, and No. 8, not to be outdone by her leaving him, chooses to shoot himself in the foot. This is a symbolic gesture, for he warns “there won’t be a next time” when he meets the two again. Zin and Masashi spend a romantic night together, but she forbids him from seeing her ever again, for his safety. Zin soon discovers she is pregnant.

Life as a single mother is difficult, but it’s even more difficult when your child has autism. Trying to get safety away from No. 8, Zin moves a lot. When her daughter Zen (Jeeja Yanin) is still quite young, No. 8 catches up with her mother and takes one of Zin’s toes right in front of a traumatized Zen. They move again, this time to a house shared by a Muay Thai kickboxing school. Zen is fascinated by their practice, and spends much of her time watching them, learning their moves. This she does while eating her favorite chocolate candies, throwing them and catching them in her mouth. She also has uncanny reflexes which add to her speed in learning martial arts from afar. She becomes obsessed with martial arts, and learns from video games and movies, namely Bruce Lee and Tony Jaa films.

One day, Zin and Zen see a homeless boy named Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) being kicked around by a gang of boys. They decide to take him in. Shortly after that, Zin develops cancer, with the two kids having no money to pay for her chemotherapy. This means Moom and Zen decide to panhandle, turning Zen’s quick reflexes of catching balls without even looking into a trick for adoring crowds.

Chocolate 2

One day, they unwittingly catch the eye of one of No. 8’s henchwomen, who hands them a substantial amount of money for their trick. At home, Moom discovers through a diary of Zin’s that she was owed money by a number of mob bosses. The children decide to go and track down each mob boss and beat the payments out of them. This strategy goes remarkably well and allows for some incredible fight scenes. Until one day, they attract the attention of No. 8.

Most notable is Jeeja Yanin of all the other roles in this movie. There are a lot of terrific things about this movie, like the different sets that they use to stage fights in. The alleyways, the factories, the slaughterhouse, the warehouses, they all recalled for me my favorite martial arts films. But most of all, for me Jeeja Yanin is who stood out the most. The actress herself specializes in TaeKwonDo, holding a fourth-degree black belt. She was discovered by veteran Thai director Prachya Pinkaew (Ong Bak, The Kick), of many notable Tony Jaa films, in 2003. It just feels right that she’s in this movie, with her unique combos of kicks driving dudes into the floor.

Chocolate is a film I wish I could have had around as a kid. Growing up seeing men on the screen in primary roles in martial arts action films, I always wondered if there was a place for women in martial arts on the screen. Being a martial artist myself I always hoped there was. Especially after watching one of my best friends get her first degree black belt at the age of 12. Later, I absolutely learned that there was, especially after seeing such classics as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. As long as there’s going to be great martial arts films with great women in them, I’m going to watch them. Chocolate is certainly no exception.

Chocolate (2008) - Trailer
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