From the April 28, 2006 Chicago Reader.
I was the head of the critics’ jury at the Hong Kong film festival last spring that awarded half its first prize to this macabre comedy-thriller from Thailand (1999, 114 min.) It’s as commercial as anything from Hollywood — as was writer-director Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s previous feature, which I liked even more, a crazed Tarantino spinoff called Fun Bar Karaoke (1997). Ratanaruang spent eight years in New York studying at the Pratt Institute and working as a freelance illustrator and designer, so his mastery of American-style entertainment obviously owes something to a prolonged absorption in this culture –though I find the Thai and global traits on view here no less striking. This picture might be described broadly as a clever version of Hitchcock lite, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also have pertinent things to say about the present Asian economic crisis. (JR)