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The Outrage
Year:
2011
Country:
Thailand
Genre:
Drama
IMDB rating:
5.6
Director:
M.L. Pundhevanop Dhewakul
Pongpat Wachirabunjong as The Undertaker
Philip Hersh as Various voices (voice)
Libby Brien as Mom & Mom1 (voice)
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 640x264 px 699 Mb mpeg4 909 Kbps avi Download
Reviews
Competent remake of "Rashomon" but with a few WTF flaws
"At the Gate of the Ghost" (2011) is an ambitious remake of Kurosawa's incomparable classic "Rashomon" (1950) which itself is an adaptation of 2 short stories "In a Grove" and "Rashomon" published in 1922. If you haven't seen the original "Rashomon", just take my word for it: it's the Japanese equivalent of the American "Citizen Kane". Like Kane, Rashomon jump started a new breed of film exploring the fractured narrative where a story is told from different, often conflicting, points of view. The ultimate question being raised: is there such thing as absolute truth? Or is the entire universe itself a subjective experience which each individual must define?

That said, let's get back to "At the Gate of the Ghost". Deliberately, this film is presented from a very overt, biased, Buddhist perspective. The opening titles say so. That sort of shatters the objective lens through which we perceive the characters' subjective nature. And for the first 20 minutes (which I hated so much I almost ejected this DVD into the trash), we get a ton of bizarre Buddhist sermons with convoluted fortune cookie catchphrases splattered across the screen to the sounds of operatic singing. Perhaps the meaning was lost in translation to English, but I found myself getting a headache while trying to make any sense of these slogans, for example (this is a direct quote), "One should strive to act in a way that is true to the way things are, that accords with the underlying truth of things."

WTF? I've heard more logical statements from the Bush administration.

But let's say you make it past the first 20 minutes. That's when things start to get really good. Following the first 20 minutes which amount to an unnecessary subplot about our hero, a young Buddhist monk who walks around observing his family's hypocrisies with a look of extreme constipation, the real gist of the movie kicks in when he finds himself in a cave talking to 2 other lost souls who have ducked in out of the rain.

Acclaimed Thai actor Pongpat Wachirabunjong (playing the role of the unscrupulous undertaker) immediately livens up the production with his larger-than-life portrayal of a disgusting, twisted misanthrope whom you can't help but love. Mutually distrustful of each other, the 3 men begin to talk about crime & punishment, and then they begin discussing the bizarre details of a murder trial.

They recount the witness testimonies, the facts, the opinions and ultimately the judgment that had just taken place, and through these different accounts we get drawn in to the mystery of wherein lies the truth. Each testimony radically contradicts the others. We hear from the Woodcutter who found the body, the Investigator who apprehended the Suspect, the Suspect who proclaims his innocence, the Wife of the victim who has a different story yet, and finally a very cool, stylish and creepy testimony from the murdered man himself.

One area where this film outshines the original "Rashomon" (through no fault of Kurosawa) is in the extreme, glorious use of colors. The visuals are really quite stunning. So in the end I do recommend this film, even to the Rashomon curmudgeons like me who say nothing will ever touch the original. Certain scenes are absolutely magical in their hi- definition glory, much like something you might expect from the modern Chinese master director Zhang Yimou ("Hero", "House of Flying Daggers"). I definitely count "At the Gate of the Ghost" as well worth the price of admission.
2015-02-15
A Nutshell Review: The Outrage
The second edition of the THIS Buddhist Film Festival continues to feature a series of films centered around Buddhist themes, and The Outrage by director M.L. Pundhevanop Dhewakul fits right into the programming with his Rashomon inspired tale of truth and deceit, unraveling a mystery told through eyewitness accounts, which naturally comes with human failings and perceptions. The story itself is based upon a play called The Gate of the Ghost by one of Thailand's renowned writers MR Kukrit Pramoj, which got adapted from Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, so the film is quite the centennial celebration of these two great personalities.

M.L. Pundhevanop reunites with most of his cast from his previous film Eternity, bringing back the likes of Ananda Everingham, Chermarn Boonyasak. Mario Maurer and Pongpat Wachirabunjong, amongst others, to craft a story that's bookended by the tale of a monk (Maurer) who is contemplating disrobing from the order en route to visiting his father. As we are told, he's one of the best at understanding the Buddhist percepts, but what he's about to encounter, will challenge his beliefs and faith, and perhaps factor into his consideration whether the temple would serve as a better place for refuge and continue his seeking of enlightenment to make sense of the senselessness experienced in the world.

And this experience centers upon a mystery murder of a warlord (Ananda Everingham), whose body is found by a woodcutter (Petchtai Wongkamiao), who reports it to the local police, in turn arresting the notorious and most wanted bandit (Dom Hetrakul) in 16th century of Thai's Lanna period. But all is not what it seems, as it involves the whereabouts of the warlord's wife (Laila Boonyasak) during the alleged crime of rape cum murder, and the roles each of the eyewitnesses play, whether directly or indirectly involved. Each person provides a different commentary of what they had seen and heard, and The Outrage becomes a fascinating investigation and quest for the truth.

Anyone who had seen Rashomon, or any of the variants in films that get inspired from the rather fractured narrative, flashback and interpretations of the truth, whether relying on bad memory, half truths, or even versions that gets set to glorify oneself or one's actions, would know what is coming and expected in the movie. But even then, there's nothing short of gripping moments that The Outrage is filled with, because with each retelling from a different personality, or perspective, adds to the richness of the tale, and examination into the basic selfish human psyche. Everyone paints the perfect picture of oneself in their narration to an open court, and the half truths that you're required to sift through for, is that part of the storytelling that makes the back story so rich, there's enough room to watch it all over again despite having to know the outcome.

The costumes, sets, and production values are nothing short of being lavishly top notch, where the filmmakers didn't scrimp in order to allow for some eye popping visuals, of landscapes and scenarios set both indoors in a cavern, and the vast outdoors in the jungle, or against the backdrop of a raging waterfall where the crime purportedly took place. While the cast put on stunning performances playing the same characters, but from different perspectives portray different emotions and behaviours, such as Dom Hetrakul's Singkam, who may either be the fearless bandit based on reputation, or a cowardly opportunist, it is Chermarn Boonyasak who excelled in her role that ranged from helpless victim, to cunning manipulator, that sees her at her best. And you can't help but feel the nagging suspicion that the only key woman in the story happened to hold all the cards as to what really transpired.

Things aren't always what they seem, and part of the fun, and in a certain fashion, the horror of knowing the extent of evil man, or woman, can do, is in watching it all come together, with the clash of value systems, perception, and the interpretation of truth, especially how it can be influenced so easily and take on a different form altogether. I suppose in this world it's hard to tell black and white, and shades of grey are the norm and reality. Recommended, as films styled after Rashomon always have something up its sleeve to surprise and provoke.
2012-09-28
Rashomon in Thailand
At the Gate of the Ghost is basically a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon. A warlord is found dead in the forest, killed by a sword. A monk, a woodcutter and a common criminal are in a cave during a storm, and they discuss the crime with four completely different versions of the same event. The first is told from the perspective of the accused killer; the second by the warlord's wife; the third by a shaman channeling the ghost of the victim; and lastly; from the woodcutter. All four are radically at odds with the others, and so by the end the viewer must decide what the truth is. It is somewhat interesting, with sub par acting all around, but colorful scenery and a beautiful lead actress, Laila Boonyasak. My advice is to find the DVD of Rashomon instead.
2013-04-26
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