You know you’re in for a tough ride when a message flashes up at the start of the movie stating that suicide is a sin and the filmmakers don’t condone it. Then we’re asked to look on as a man takes his life in gruesome fashion. There is a good reason for this, but lets make one thing clear, director Thanakorn Pongsuwan likes his action bloody.
A man learns a powerful lesson about the price of immortality in Demon Warriors, a supernatural action thriller from Thailand. The Opapatikas are a special breed of people who have died, only to be resurrected and given special powers. Invincible in combat, they gain unique superhuman skills in return for killing themselves. Sounds great on paper, but there is a flipside. Detective Techit (Putthipong Sriwat) is a police investigator who has learnt the secrets of the Opapatika and wants to join their underground fraternity, so he approaches master Mr. Sadok (Nirut Sirichanya), and it’s downhill from there.
In return for gaining the ability of foresight he gradually loses the use of his five senses. He didn’t read that in the brochure now, did he? Sadok pairs Techit with Thuvathit (Pongpat Wachirabunjong), the human leader of a vast army devoted to capturing Opapatika and bringing them down. But Sadok needs to consume the flesh of the other Opapatika because he’s dying. Their targets are Paison (Chakrit Yamnam), Jirat (Somchai Kemglad), Aroot (Ray MacDonald), and Ramil (Atip Nana) - the coolest of the bunch because he projects a fierce ghost that looks awesome. They might have superhuman powers but they also have a fair share of weaknesses. Turns out there’s a lot of cake going uneaten.
Lost beneath the violent action and moody exterior is a plot dynamic worth sinking your teeth into. The concept is cool, there's no arguments on that front, but the execution is muddled and confused. Pongsuwan injects neither warmth nor humanity into his characters and as a result they are hard to connect with. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the performances but without depth, without a little something to invest in, Demon Warriors comes on like a collection of set pieces linked only by moody exposition.
The action is exciting and well staged for the most part but it fast becomes monotonous without interesting character dynamics. It’s a dark and sombre affair that explodes into life every few minutes as we’re forced to endure another wave of bad guys being dispensed with. The armed forces that hunt down the Opapatika are relentless in their quest. They’re also pretty stupid. What kind of fool would sign up to track down a bunch of dead guys that can’t be killed, especially when they witness the slaughter of their companions time and time again? Still, they keep on coming, and the threadbare plot unravels under a cloud of confusion and misplaced sentiment.
Action junkies might get a kick out of the relentless violence – Pongsuwan pulls no punches when it comes to bloody carnage and deadly warfare – but he misses a trick or three when it comes to character, storyline and consistency. Demon Warriors looks great in places, but beneath the surface sheen is a mess of a movie that makes little sense and lacks emotional punch. If you’re looking for a shallow action fix then you might get a kick out of it – there’s certainly lots of eye candy and flair – but there’s precious little to recommend beyond death, destruction and decent production values.
Whatever message the makers of Demon Warriors were trying to make is made clear at the start of the movie, so there’s no need to watch the rest of the picture. Suicide is bad, but choosing to watch this movie again in the near future is a much scarier proposition. AW