Tears of the Black Tiger

Tears of the Black Tiger

Infobox Film
name = Tears of the Black Tiger


caption = The Thai movie poster.
director = Wisit Sasanatieng
producer = Pracha Maleenont
Brian L. Marcar
Adirek Wattaleela
Nonzee Nimibutr
writer = Wisit Sasanatieng
narrator =
starring = Chartchai Ngamsan
Stella Malucchi
Supakorn Kitsuwon
Sombat Metanee
music = Amornbhong Methakunavudh
cinematography = Nattawut Kittikhun
editing = Dusanee Puinongpho
distributor = Five Star Production
Magnolia Pictures
released = Thailand:
September 28, 2000
United States (limited):
January 12, 2007
runtime = 110 min.
country = Thailand
language = Thai
budget =
preceded_by =
followed_by =
website = http://www.magpictures.com/profile.aspx?id=24307868-9b60-42e8-9a73-47efea0f8758
amg_id = 1:270415
imdb_id = 0269217

"Tears of the Black Tiger" ( _th. ฟ้าทะลายโจร, or "Fah talai jone", literally, "the heavens strike the thief") is a 2000 Thai western film written and directed by Wisit Sasanatieng. The story of a tragic romance between Dum, a fatalistic, working-class hero, who has become an outlaw, and Rumpoey, the upper-class daughter of a provincial governor, it is equal parts homage to and parody of Thai action films and romantic melodramas of the 1950s and 1960s.

The film was the first from Thailand to be selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival,cite web | title = Un certain regard > Fah Talai Jone | work = Cannes 2001 | publisher = Cannes Film Festival | url = http://www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=2001147 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | title = Cannes Film Festival | work = Search result, Thailand | url = http://www.festival-cannes.fr/aide/search_film.php?langue=6002&titre_film=&realisateur=&acteur=&anneefilm=&paysfilm=THA | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] where it was critically hailed.cite web | last = Bradshaw | first = Peter | authorlink = Peter Bradshaw | title = Guardian Unlimited film reviews | publisher = The Guardian | date = 2001-08-24 | url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,541554,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | last = Edelstein | first = David | authorlink = David Edelstein | title = Thai cowboys with rockets | publisher = New York Magazine | date = 2007-01-15 | url = http://nymag.com/movies/reviews/26289/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-09] It was screened at several other film festivals in 2001 and 2002, including the Vancouver International Film Festival, where it won the Dragons and Tigers Awards for Best New Director.cite web | title= 19th Vancouver International Film Festival Report | publisher = Senses of Cinema | url=http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/festivals/00/10/viff.html | accessdate=2006-12-16 ] It also won many awards in Thailand for production and costume design, special effects and soundtrack.

Critics have noted the film's stylized use of color and conspicuous violence, and have compared it to the revisionist westerns of Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah.cite web | last = Bradshaw | first = Peter | authorlink = Peter Bradshaw | title = Guardian Unlimited film reviews | publisher = The Guardian | date = 2001-08-24 | url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,541554,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] It has also been compared to the works of such directors as Douglas Sirk, John Woo, Jean-Luc Godard, Sam Raimi and Quentin Tarantino.cite web | last = Edelstein | first = David | authorlink = David Edelstein | title = Thai cowboys with rockets | publisher = New York Magazine | date = 2007-01-15 | url = http://nymag.com/movies/reviews/26289/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-09] cite web | last = Korsner | first = Jason | title = Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone) | publisher = BBC | date = 2001-08-23 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/08/20/tears_of_the_black_tiger_2001_review.shtml | accessdate = 2007-01-10 ] cite web | last = Bourne | first = Christopher | title = Review: Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Meniscus Magazine | year = 2007 | url = http://www.meniscuszine.com/issue18/2007tears/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-11]

Miramax Films purchased the film for distribution in the United States, but changed the ending and then shelved it indefinitely. In 2006, the distribution rights were obtained by Magnolia Pictures, which screened the original version of the film in a limited release from January to April 2007 in several US cities.cite web | last = Goldstein | first = Greg | title = Magnolia cages 'Tiger' in U.S. | publisher = The Hollywood Reporter | date = 2006-11-28 | url = http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3ib31cec84f9bcdcbaf1f0c4ccc608bbf9 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Plot

A young woman waits in the rain under an ornate gazebo in a lotus pond. She carries with her a photo of the man she is waiting for.

The man, whose name is Dum, is with another gunman named Mahesuan. Dressed all in black and wearing a cowboy hat, Dum enters a house and fires his pistol. The bullet ricochets around before it burrows into a man's forehead. A red title card then flashes up and says: "Did you catch that? If not, we'll play it again!" And the shot is replayed in slow motion, showing the bullet bouncing off items in a Rube Goldberg fashion.

Dum then rushes off, galloping his horse across the plain. However, by the time he reaches the gazebo, the woman, whose name is Rumpoey, is gone. She has returned home, where she is to be engaged to Police Captain Kumjorn in a marriage arranged by her father, the provincial governor.

Mahesuan is bitter about his status as a sidekick to Dum. He was the best gunman in the outlaw gang headed by the brutal Fai, until Dum came along. Eager to settle the score, Mahesuan goes looking for Dum and finds him playing a harmonica. Mahesuan knocks it out of Dum's hand and baits him into a gunfight. The quick-drawing Dum fires first, but Mahesuan is not injured. However, a dead snake drops from an overhanging tree branch onto Mahesuan's cowboy hat. Dum killed the venomous snake, saving Mahesuan's life.

Dum then thinks back to his childhood 10 years ago during the Second World War, when Rumpoey and her father left the city to stay on Dum's father's small farm in rural Thailand.

Rumpoey is a demanding girl. She smashes a bamboo flute that Dum is playing and demands that he take her on a boat ride in the lotus pond. They visit the gazebo, or "sala" in Thai language, and it is called "Sala Awaiting the Maiden." Dum says a woodcutter built it to await a wealthy family's daughter whom he had fallen in love with. However, the maiden was prevented from meeting the woodcutter, so she hung herself. Rumpoey is touched by the story.

On the way home, they collide with a boat carrying three boys, who taunt Rumpoey. Dum defends Rumpoey, is struck with an oar and then their boat overturns. He rescues Rumpoey but is late in coming home. So he is punished by his father, who lashes the boy's back with a rattan cane. Rumpoey, feeling sorry for getting Dum into trouble, buys him a harmonica to replace the flute she broke.

Shifting back to present time, Dum and Mahesuan ride to an old Buddhist temple, where they swear a blood oath in front of the Buddha statue.

Meanwhile, Captain Kumjorn is eager to bring law and order to the wild west of Suphanburi Province. In an attack on Fai's hide-out, the police forces seem to be gaining the upper hand. But then Dum and Mahesuan arrive on a cliff overlooking the battle and use grenade launchers to decimate the police. Kumjorn is captured, and Dum is ordered by Fai to execute him. Kumjorn pleads with Dum to tell his fiancée of his fate, and he pulls out a framed photo of his beloved. Dum is stunned to see a photo of Rumpoey. Mahesuan enters to find Kumjorn gone and Dum with a knife in his chest.

As Dum's wound is being treated, he thinks back to one year ago, when he was a university student in Bangkok, where he became re-acquainted with Rumpoey. Dum pleads with her to leave him alone, reasoning that they are from different social classes and are fated to never be together. Later, Rumpoey is attacked by a gang of male students, the same boys from her childhood boat accident. Dum comes to her rescue but ends up expelled. Rumpoey finds Dum walking, and offers to give him a ride in her car. She then instructs her driver to take them to a nearby beach. Dum and Rumpoey confide their love for each other, and they agree to meet a year later at Sala Awaiting the Maiden.

However, Dum arrives at home and finds his father murdered. He takes his father's rifle, tracks the killers and shoots some of them. With one bullet left, he turns the gun on himself, but is stopped by Fai, who has ridden up with his horsemen. Fai recognizes the rifle, saying he had given it to Dum's father years before. Fai then hands Dum a pistol and tells him to finish the job of killing the men who murdered his father. Dum is now an outlaw.

Shifting back to the present, where it is the night before Rumpoey's wedding to Kumjorn, she tries to hang herself, but is stopped by her maid. Fai, meanwhile, plans to attack the governor's mansion, and Mahesuan, suspecting that Dum intentionally let Kumjorn go free, betrays Dum. A gun battle ensues, but Dum escapes.

Dum, dressed in a white suit, appears at the wedding and warns Kumjorn of Fai's plans to attack. Kumjorn, however, wants to shoot the man he knows as the "Black Tiger" and is his rival for Rumpoey's affection. Fai's men attack and Mahesuan breaks into the mansion, where he discovers Rumpoey, and knocks her unconscious. Mahesuan is carrying Rumpoey away when he meets Dum and demands a rematch gunfight. As a raindrop drips through a hole in the brim of Mahesuan's hat, Dum fires and the bullet rips through Mahesuan's teeth.

Dum, next confronted by Kumjorn, reaches into his pocket. Kumjorn, believing that he is reaching for his gun, shoots Dum. But Dum was only reaching for the photograph of Rumpoey that Kumjorn had once carried. As Dum lays dying in the rain with Rumpoey sobbing over him, some of Dum's words from earlier are narrated again – that life is suffering, punctuated only by a never-ending search for happy moments.

Cast

* Chartchai Ngamsan as Dum Dua, or Seua Dum (Black Tiger)
* Suwinit Panjamawat as Dum Dua (youth)
* Stella Malucchi as Rumpoey Prasit
* Supakorn Kitsuwon as Mahesuan
* Arawat Ruangvuth as Police Captain Kumjorn
* Sombat Metanee as Fai
* Pairoj Jaisingha as Phya Prasit (Rumpoey's father)
* Naiyana Sheewanun as Rumpoey's maid
* Kanchit Kwanpracha as Kamnan Dua (Dum's father)
* Chamloen Sridang as Sergeant Yam

Production

Origins

While "Tears of the Black Tiger" has been compared to the revisionist westerns of Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone,cite web | last = Bradshaw | first = Peter | authorlink = Peter Bradshaw | title = Guardian Unlimited film reviews | publisher = The Guardian | date = 2001-08-24 | url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,541554,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | last = Buscombe | first = Edward | title = Way Out East | publisher = Sight & Sound | date = 2001-08 | url = http://www.sight-and-sound.org/sightandsound/review/1990 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] director Wisit Sasanatieng drew on many Thai cultural influences in the creation of the film, including Thai films of the 1950s made by pioneering director Rattana Pestonji, whose films Wisit had viewed in screenings at the Thailand National Film Archive.

"Whenever the Film Archive screened an old film, I'd be there. Usually, I'd be the only one there," Wisit said in an interview at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2000. "Most Thai audiences dislike Thai movies, especially the old ones, which they consider "nam nao"," he said, using the Thai language euphemism for the old films, which are viewed as stagnant and cliched. Literally, "nam nao" means "stinky water."cite web | last = Stephens | first = Chuck | title = Tears of the Black Tiger – Review | publisher = Film Comment | month = May | year = 2001 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1069/is_3_37/ai_75373521 | accessdate = 2007-02-09 ]

"What I saw in them was a way to stay true to the spirit of those old styles of Thai filmmaking, as well as a way to make them new again. And none of the older generation of filmmakers impressed me more than Rattana Pestonji."cite web | last = Stephens | first = Chuck | title = Tears of the Black Tiger – Review | publisher = Film Comment | month = May | year = 2001 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1069/is_3_37/ai_75373521 | accessdate = 2007-02-09 ]

In addition to Rattana's 1950s and 1960s drama films, "Tears of the Black Tiger" draws on 1960s and 1970s Thai action cinema, derisively termed by critics as "raberd poa, khaow pao kratom" ("bomb the mountain, burn the huts") films. Among the stars from this era were Mitr Chaibancha and Sombat Metanee, who co-stars as gang leader Fai.cite web | last = Rayns | first = Tony | authorlink = Tony Rayns | title = Dinosaur get out! | publisher = Cinemas Online | date = 2001-03-11 | url = http://www.cinemas-online.co.uk/films/blacktiger/interview.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] Wisit has acknowledged the influence of Leone's Spaghetti Westerns but has said, "mine is 'Tom yum
Tom Yum Goong
cowboys' because at one time cowboys were very popular in Thai films as you can see in Mitr Chaibancha's films."cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Still more influences include the novels of Thai humorist Por Intharapalit and an old Thai pop ballad, "Fon Sang Fah" ("When the Rain Bids the Sky Farewell"). "I do love those 'rain' songs. I kept picturing a beautiful frame of two guys shooting each other in the rain. And that sparked it all," Wisit said in an interview for the film's production notes.cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] Initially "Fon Sang Fah" was to be the title of the film, but eventually "Fah talai jone" (literally "the heavens strike the thief") was chosen because the name has different meanings depending on the context. In addition to being the Thai name for an herb, Andrographis paniculata, "Fah talai jone" "can convey either a sense of obsoleteness or the feel of great chic," the director said.cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] "In terms of the film it refers to predestination, in which most Thais believe. To put it frankly, the main reason is simply because I liked the name." cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Production design, lighting, processing

"Tears of the Black Tiger" was the directorial debut for Wisit, who had previously penned the screenplays for the 1950s-set teenage gangster tale "Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters" and the historical Thai ghost legend, "Nang Nak", both directed by Nonzee Nimibutr, who produced "Tears of the Black Tiger". Production design was by Ek Iemchuen, a classmate of Wisit's from Silpakorn University who also worked on "Nang Nak" and "Dang Bireley's" as well as the 2001 period drama, "Jan Dara", also by Nonzee.cite web | title = Production notes | work = Press kit | publisher = Magnolia Pictures | url = http://www.magpictures.com/films/blacktiger/blacktiger.doc | format = doc | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

The production designs reflects traditional aspects of Thai culture. For example, the first gun battle between Mahesuan and Dum is set on what is obviously a sound stage with a painted backdrop, a setting that is similar to likay, a Thai form of folk opera.

"I wanted the audience to feel like they're reading a novel with moving illustrations," Wisit said. "It's pure imagination and completely unrealistic. I wanted to try and go back to our roots. I wanted to make a link between the traditional and the contemporary in our own style."cite web | last = Roddick | first = Nick | title = Keep watching the Thais | publisher = Preview Online | date = 2001-05 | url = http://www.preview-online.com/may_june2001/feature_articles/blacktiger/ | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Over-saturated colors were used to reflect scenes of rural Thailand, which the director saw as bright and colorful. Walls on the sets and locations were painted pink or green, and lighting was used to achieve the saturation. The film was treated in the color grading process by transferring it to digital Betacam tape and then back to 35 mm film.cite web | last = Roddick | first = Nick | title = Keep watching the Thais | publisher = Preview Online | date = 2001-05 | url = http://www.preview-online.com/may_june2001/feature_articles/blacktiger/ | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] Oxide Pang, working as a telecine colorist, won a special effects award in Thailand for his work.cite web | title=Film Bangkok | work=Mirror of official site at Asia.Travel.ru | url=http://asia.travel.ru/others/fahtalaijone/english/more/index.html | accessdate= 2007-01-09]

Wisit was able to experiment with the set design and lighting effects in a commercial he directed for Wrangler Jeans, which featured the film's leading man, Chartchai Ngamsan, as a boxer.cite web | last = Sasanatieng | first = Wisit | authorlink = Wisit Sasanatieng | title = Wrangler Jeans commercial | publisher = Film Factory | url = http://www.filmfactory.org/download/WranglerJeans_boxer.zip | format = zip | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Casting and promotion

Most of the cast were relative newcomers, whom the director said he chose because he felt established stars would not be able to handle the old-style dialog. Chartchai Ngamsan and Supakorn Kitsuwon had previously had supporting roles in "Dang Bireley's and Young Gangsters". Italian-born, Thailand-raised model and actress Stella Malucchi was acting in a music video in Bangkok, which was noticed on television by Wisit. He then sought out Malucchi, saying he thought she had the right look for the part of Rumpoey.cite web | last = Stephens | first = Chuck | title = Tears of the Black Tiger – Review | publisher = Film Comment | month = May | year = 2001 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1069/is_3_37/ai_75373521 | accessdate = 2007-02-09 ] cite web | title = Stella Malucchi on Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Channel 4 | url = http://web.channel4.com/film/reviews/feature.jsp?id=111944 | accessdate = 2007-01-09] He told her later she reminded him of Elizabeth Taylor.cite web | title = Stella Malucchi on Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Channel 4 | url = http://web.channel4.com/film/reviews/feature.jsp?id=111944 | accessdate = 2007-01-09] Through costuming and makeup, Malucchi, a "plain farang", in the words of Wisit,cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] was transformed into the daughter of a Thai noble family. There are experienced actors in the cast as well, including Sombat Metanee and Naiyana Sheewanun, who worked in the era of Thai filmmaking that Wisit was trying to recreate.

Old-style ways of promoting the film were used. In the 1950s, films in Thailand were promoted with serial novels and radio dramas. Wisit and his wife Siripan Techajindawong, writing under the pen name Koynuch, wrote some chapters that were published for a "Fah talai jone" book after the film was released. A radio version of "Fah talai jone" was performed while the film was in cinemas in Thailand. Wisit designed movie posters and print ads that emulated the style of Thai film posters from the 1950s and 1960s.cite web | last = Rayns | first = Tony | authorlink = Tony Rayns | title = Dinosaur get out! | publisher = Cinemas Online | date = 2001-03-11 | url = http://www.cinemas-online.co.uk/films/blacktiger/interview.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | title= Film Fact | publisher = Channel 4 | url=http://www.channel4.com/apps26/film/reviews/film.jsp?id=109109&section=filmfact | accessdate=2007-01-09 ]

Reception

Festivals and awards

"Tears of the Black Tiger" opened on September 28, 2000, in a wide release for Thai cinemas.cite web | title= Tears of the Black Tiger synopsis | publisher = MovieSeer | url=http://www.movieseer.com/MovieProfileBil.asp?moID=144&Channel=2 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] The film was a flop at the domestic box office,cite web | last = Stephens | first = Chuck | title = Tears of the Black Tiger – Review | publisher = Film Comment | month = May | year = 2001 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1069/is_3_37/ai_75373521 | accessdate = 2007-02-09 ] cite web | last=Na Talang | first=Jeerawat | title= King Naresuan should be great | publisher = The Nation (Thailand) | date = 2007-01-16 | url = http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2007/01/16/business/business_30024229.php | accessdate = 2007-01-25] but it received several awards. At the Thailand National Film Association Awards, the film won best costume design for Chaiwichit Somboon.cite web | title = Awards for Fah talai jone | publisher = Internet Movie Database | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0269217/awards | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ] The Bangkok Critics Assembly awarded Ek Iamchuen for best artistic design, Sombat Metanee for best supporting actor and Amornbhong Methakunavudh for best film score. The Entertainment News Reporters Association of Thailand gave "Phra Suraswadee", or "Golden Doll", prizes to lyricist Siriphan Techajindawong and arranger Sunthorn Yodseethong for the song "Kamsuanjan" ("The Moon Lament"), Ek Iemchuen for best art direction and telecine colorist Oxide Pang for best special effects.cite web | title=Film Bangkok | work=Mirror of official site at Asia.Travel.ru | url=http://asia.travel.ru/others/fahtalaijone/english/more/index.html | accessdate= 2007-01-09] "Tears of the Black Tiger" was referenced in another Thai film, "Monrak Transistor", in 2001. The comedy by director Pen-ek Ratanaruang starred Supakorn Kitsuwon, who co-starred in "Tears" as Mahesuan. At the 2006 Bangkok International Film Festival, "Tears of the Black Tiger" was screened as part of a tribute to Sombat Metanee, who portrays the outlaw leader, Fai.cite web | title = Veteran Actor Sombat Metanee to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award | publisher = 2006 Bangkok International Film Festival | date = 2006-01-19 | url = http://www.bangkokfilm.org/2006/download/press_release/Sombat_Metanee-Eng.pdf | format = PDF | accessdate = 2006-11-30 ]

The film's North American premiere was on October 5, 2000 at the Vancouver International Film Festival, where it won the Dragons and Tigers Award for best new director.cite web | title= 19th Vancouver International Film Festival Report | publisher = Senses of Cinema | url=http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/festivals/00/10/viff.html | accessdate=2006-12-16 ] It was the first Thai film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was in the Un Certain Regard competition in May 2001.cite web | title = Un certain regard > Fah Talai Jone | work = Cannes 2001 | publisher = Cannes Film Festival | url = http://www.festival-cannes.fr/films/fiche_film.php?langue=6002&id_film=2001147 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | title = Cannes Film Festival | work = Search result, Thailand | url = http://www.festival-cannes.fr/aide/search_film.php?langue=6002&titre_film=&realisateur=&acteur=&anneefilm=&paysfilm=THA | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] At the Gijón International Film Festival in 2001, it won the best art direction award,cite web | title = Awards for Fah talai jone | publisher = Internet Movie Database | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0269217/awards | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ] and at the fifth Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival it won a jury prize.cite web | title = Puchon Choice Feature | publisher = Fifth Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival | url = http://history.pifan.com/eng/5th/5th_summary.htm | accessdate= 2006-12-16 ] Other festival appearances included the Seattle International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2001 and the Sundance Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Deauville Asian Film Festival and Moscow International Film Festival in 2002.cite web | title = Release dates for Fah talai jone | publisher = Internet Movie Database | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0269217/releaseinfo | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 76% fresh rating, based on 58 reviews, with an 88% "Cream of the Crop" rating.cite web | title = Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Rotten Tomatoes | url = http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/tears_of_the_black_tiger/ | accessdate = 2007-12-03 ] On Metacritic, it has a score of 69/100, based on 19 reviews, for a "generally favorable" rating.cite web | title = Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Metacritic | url = http://www.metacritic.com/film/titles/tearsoftheblacktiger | accessdate = 2007-03-15 ] Critics were "wowed" by the film at the Cannes Film Festival, according to Peter Bradshaw of "The Guardian", who termed the film a "stir-fry horse opera [and an] uproarious high-camp cowboy drama."cite web | last = Bradshaw | first = Peter | authorlink = Peter Bradshaw | title = Guardian Unlimited film reviews | publisher = The Guardian | date = 2001-08-24 | url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,541554,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

Philip French of "The Observer" found parallels to "Once Upon a Time in the West", particularly between the anti-hero Dum and Charles Bronson's harmonica-playing character. He also saw similarities to the deliberately artificial action of Sam Raimi's "The Quick and the Dead". He said the "outlandishly painted backdrops and garish acid colors" reminded him of old Asian movie posters. "The overall effect is hallucinatory, as if we're experiencing someone else's druggy dream."cite web | last = French | first = Philip | authorlink = Philip French | title = Paint your dragon, cowboy | publisher = The Observer | date = 2001-08-26 | url = http://film.guardian.co.uk/News_Story/Critic_Review/Observer_Film_of_the_week/0,,542486,00.html | accessdate = 2007-01-10]

Chuck Stephens, writing for "Film Comment", said the blend of 1970s Thai action cinema and the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone results in a "hybrid of hybrids ... a Pad Thai western where cowboys covet machine guns and swear blood oaths to one another under the shadow of an impassive Buddha."cite web | last = Stephens | first = Chuck | title = Tears of the Black Tiger – Review | publisher = Film Comment | month = May | year = 2001 | url = http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1069/is_3_37/ai_75373521 | accessdate = 2007-02-09 ]

The BBC's Jason Korsner criticized the film for its "deliberately labored plot," which he said was "offset by some fascinating action sequences, including gunfights which would make Tarantino jealous."cite web | last = Korsner | first = Jason | title = Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone) | publisher = BBC | date = 2001-08-23 | url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/08/20/tears_of_the_black_tiger_2001_review.shtml | accessdate = 2007-01-10 ]

However, "Sight & Sound" magazine's Edward Buscombe called the action "tame by contemporary Hollywood standards" but said it was "curiously seductive" because of its colorful imagery. Buscombe, as well as Philip French, remarked how "Tears of the Black Tiger" contrasted with another Asian cinema export to the West that year: the balletic martial arts film, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".cite web | last = Buscombe | first = Edward | title = Way Out East | publisher = Sight & Sound | date = 2001-08 | url = http://www.sight-and-sound.org/sightandsound/review/1990 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

David Edelstein of "New York Magazine" compared the film to 1940s low-budget westerns of Lash La Rue, Douglas Sirk melodramas, the heroic bloodshed films of John Woo and George A. Romero's gore-filled horror films. "It's no buried postmodern masterpiece, but it certainly is a jaw-dropper: a delirium-inducing crash course in international trash," Edelstein wrote.cite web | last = Edelstein | first = David | authorlink = David Edelstein | title = Thai cowboys with rockets | publisher = New York Magazine | date = 2007-01-15 | url = http://nymag.com/movies/reviews/26289/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-09]

A. O. Scott of "The New York Times" commented on the stoic, macho posturing of Chartchai Ngamsan's Dum, and the underlying homoeroticism of the character's relationship with Mahesuan, portrayed by Supakorn Kitsuwon. " [Rumpoey] may be the love of Dum's life, but there is far more heat and intimacy in his relationship with Mahesuan."cite web | last = Scott | first = A. O. | authorlink = A. O. Scott | title = Gun-slinging cowboys in colorful Thailand | publisher = The New York Times | date = 2007-01-12 | url = http://movies2.nytimes.com/2007/01/12/movies/12tige.html?ex=1200114000&en=915a03ae20e75231&ei=5083&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-12]

Elizabeth Weitzman of the "New York Daily News" noted the film's appeal as a camp film and as a cult film, saying "the best B-movies are both."cite web | last = Weitzman | first = Elizabeth | title = Wild, wild East | publisher = New York Daily News | date = 2007-01-12 | url = http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/moviereviews/story/488073p-410820c.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-13]

Distribution

Infobox movie certificates
Austria = MA
Finland = K-15
France = U
Germany = 16
Italy = T
Netherlands = 16
Spain = 13
Switzerland = 14
United_Kingdom = 18
United_States = Unrated

Purchase by Miramax, alternate versions

International sales rights to "Tears of the Black Tiger" were purchased by Fortissimo Films, which marketed a 101-minute "international cut", edited by director Wisit Sasanatieng from the original 110-minute length. The shorter version omits some transitional scenes in order to streamline the pacing of the film.cite web | last = Lim | first = Dennis | title = When Miramax ate a 'Tiger' | publisher = Los Angeles Times | date = 2007-03-02 | url = http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/business/la-et-tears2mar02,1,6918453.story?coll=la-headlines-business-enter&ctrack=1&cset=true | accessdate = 2007-03-02] This version was released theatrically in several countries, including France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.cite web | title = Release dates for Fah talai jone | publisher = Internet Movie Database | url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0269217/releaseinfo | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ]

Among the deleted scenes are those involving the comic relief character, Sergeant Yam, Rumpoey's engagement to Captain Kumjorn and other transitional scenes. cite web | title = Tears of the Black Tiger | work = DVD comparisons | publisher = DVD Talk | date = 2005-02-23 | url = http://forum.dvdtalk.com/showthread.php?t=280504&highlight=tears+black+tiger | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ]

Fortissimo sold the US distribution rights to Miramax Films during the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.cite web | title = Miramax Grabs Sasanatieng's 'Tears of the Black Tiger' | publisher = IndieWire | url = http://www.indiewire.com/biz/biz_010511_briefs.html | accessdate = 2006-12-16 ] Miramax then sent word that it wanted to alter the film. Wisit offered the company an even shorter version than the international cut, but the company refused. "They didn't allow me to re-cut it at all," Wisit said in an interview with the "Los Angeles Times". "They did it by themselves and then sent me the tape. And they changed the ending from tragic to happy. They said that in the time after 9/11, nobody would like to see something sad."cite web | last = Lim | first = Dennis | title = When Miramax ate a 'Tiger' | publisher = Los Angeles Times | date = 2007-03-02 | url = http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/business/la-et-tears2mar02,1,6918453.story?coll=la-headlines-business-enter&ctrack=1&cset=true | accessdate = 2007-03-02] cite web | title = TIFF Report: Wisit Sasanatieng talks "Citizen Dog' | publisher = Twitchfilm | date = 2005-09-17 | url = http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/003574.html | accessdate = 2007-01-11]

Altering films was routine for Miramax, at the time headed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who defended their actions by saying the films needed editing to make them marketable to American audiences. Other examples were the Miramax releases of "Shaolin Soccer" and "Hero". "I'm not cutting for fun," Harvey Weinstein said in an interview. "I'm cutting for the shit to work. All my life I served one master: the film. I love movies."cite web | last = Mason | first = Ian Garrick | title = When Harvey met Mickey | publisher = New Statesman | date = 2004-10-11 | url = http://www3.sympatico.ca/ian.g.mason/Harvey_Weinstein.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-11]

The Miramax version was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. The company then shelved the film, fearing it would not do well in a wider release.cite web | last = Lim | first = Dennis | title = When Miramax ate a 'Tiger' | publisher = Los Angeles Times | date = 2007-03-02 | url = http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/business/la-et-tears2mar02,1,6918453.story?coll=la-headlines-business-enter&ctrack=1&cset=true | accessdate = 2007-03-02]

This was another routine by the Weinsteins, who delayed releases so they could shift potential money-losing films to future fiscal years and ensure they would receive annual bonuses from Miramax's corporate parent, The Walt Disney Company.cite web | last = Epstein | first = Edward Jay | title = The great illusionist | publisher = Slate | date = 2005-10-10 | url = http://www.slate.com/id/2127757/?nav=tap3 | accessdate = 2007-01-11]

As "Tears of the Black Tiger" languished in the Miramax vaults, its cult film status was heightened and it became a "Holy Grail" for film fans.cite web | last = Goldstein | first = Greg | title = Magnolia cages 'Tiger' in U.S. | publisher = The Hollywood Reporter | date = 2006-11-28 | url = http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3ib31cec84f9bcdcbaf1f0c4ccc608bbf9 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | last = Weitzman | first = Elizabeth | title = Wild, wild East | publisher = New York Daily News | date = 2007-01-12 | url = http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/movies/moviereviews/story/488073p-410820c.html | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-13] cite web | last = Brown | first = Chris | title = Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Opuszine | date = 2004-01-25 | url = http://www.opuszine.com/movie_reviews/review/tears_of_the_black_tiger/ | accessdate = 2007-01-11] cite web | title = How about a Thai cult film??? | publisher = Fixins Entertainment | date = 2005-04-10 | url = http://www.fixins.com/blogtest/2005/04/how-about-thai-cult-film.html | accessdate = 2007-01-11] For viewers in the US, the only way to watch it was to purchase the DVD from overseas importers, however some of those versions of the film had also been heavily edited.cite web | last = Bourne | first = Christopher | title = Review: Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Meniscus Magazine | year = 2007 | url = http://www.meniscuszine.com/issue18/2007tears/ | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2007-01-11] cite web | title = Tears of the Black Tiger | work = DVD comparisons | publisher = DVD Talk | date = 2005-02-23 | url = http://forum.dvdtalk.com/showthread.php?t=280504&highlight=tears+black+tiger | accessdate = 2007-01-11 ]

In late 2006, Magnolia Pictures acquired the film's distribution rights from Miramax. Magnolia screened the original version of the film in a limited release from January to April 2007 in several US cities.cite web | last = Goldstein | first = Greg | title = Magnolia cages 'Tiger' in U.S. | publisher = The Hollywood Reporter | date = 2006-11-28 | url = http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/film/news/e3ib31cec84f9bcdcbaf1f0c4ccc608bbf9 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] cite web | title = Revenge of the Tears of the Black Tiger | publisher = Kaiju Shakedown | url = http://web.archive.org/web/20070126094715/http://www.kaijushakedown.com/2006/11/revenge_of_the_.html | accessdate = 2007-08-08 ] cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng's Tears of the Black Tiger gets a USA release on January 12, 2007 | publisher = Rotten Tomatoes | url=http://www.rottentomatoes.com/vine/showpost.php?p=9656138&postcount=1 | accessdate= 2006-12-17 ]

DVD releases

The original version of the film, with English subtitles, was released on DVD in Thailand by Digital Right, and it is out of print. A Singaporean Region 3 release, also with English subtitles, had scenes involving graphic violence cut. The Region 2 release, marketed in Europe by Pathé and in Region 4 by Madman Entertainment is the 101-minute "international cut".

The first DVD release for Region 1 was on April 24, 2007 by Magnolia Pictures, which acquired the original, uncut version of the film.cite web | title = The Tiger hits DVD April 24th | publisher = Twitchfilm.net | date = 2007-02-16 | url = http://www.twitchfilm.net/archives/009099.html | accessdate = 2007-02-17 ]

oundtrack

Infobox Album
Name = Tears of the Black Tiger
Type = soundtrack
Longtype =
Artist = various artists


Released = 2000
Recorded =
Genre = Big band jazz, easy listening pop
Length = 38:20
Label = BEC-TERO Entertainment
Producer =
Reviews = * [http://www.musicfromthemovies.com/review.asp?ID=1129 Music from the Movies] Rating|3|5
Last album =
This album =
Next album =
Just as "Tears of the Black Tiger" has been compared to the Spaghetti Westerns of director Sergio Leone, the music in the film has been likened to the scores Ennio Morricone composed for Leone's films.cite web | last = Buscombe | first = Edward | title = Way Out East | publisher = Sight & Sound | date = 2001-08 | url = http://www.sight-and-sound.org/sightandsound/review/1990 | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ]

However, the score is sourced from the types of big band jazz and pop music sounds that were heard in Thailand in the 1940s and 1950s. Among the songs is the 1940s Thai pop ballad, "Fon Sang Fah" ("When the Rain Bids the Sky Farewell").cite web | title = Wisit Sasanatieng interview | publisher = Thai Movies | year = 2001 | url = http://home.att.ne.jp/wave/zaqs/rev/ftj.txt | format = txt | accessdate = 2007-01-09 ] There is also "Mercy," composed by 1940s Thai bandleader and jazz violinist Eua Sunthornsanan, which features whimsical fiddle playing and whistling. However, the lyrics to the song, written by Leud Prasomsap, offer a contrast to the mood evoked by the jaunty tune:

:"What a miserable life, so alone":"No one cares for me":"I'm so alone, so lonesome I could die".cite video | people = Sasanatieng, Wisit, dir | title = Fah talai Jone (English subtitles) | medium = DVD | publisher = Digital Right | location = Thailand | year = 2001]

A traditional song, "Kamsuanjan" ("The Moon Lament"), was arranged with new lyrics by Wisit's wife, Siripan Techajindawong. She and arranger Sunthorn Yodseethong won the "Phra Suraswadee" ("Golden Doll") prize for best song from the Entertainment News Reporters Association of Thailand.cite web | title=Film Bangkok | work=Mirror of official site at Asia.Travel.ru | url=http://asia.travel.ru/others/fahtalaijone/english/more/index.html | accessdate= 2007-01-09]

Track listing

A soundtrack CD was issued around the time the film was released. The first half of the CD is songs with vocals. The songs are then repeated as instrumentals.
# "Mercy" – composed by Leud Prasomsap and Eua Sunthornsanan); performed by Veera Bamrungsri (3:01)
# "Kamsuanjan" ("The Moon Lament") – traditional, lyrics by Wisit Sasanatieng and Siripan Techajindawong; performed by Yaowaret Methakhunnawut (3:23)
# "Fon Sang Fah" ("When the Rain Bid the Sky Farewell") – composed by Salai Krailoed and Suthin Thesarak; performed by Kamonwan Thasanon (2:49)
# "Destiny" – composed by Kaew Achariyakun and Wet Sunthonjamon; performed by Niwat Charoenmit (2:55)
# "Beautiful Beach" – composed by Sakon Mitranon and Sanae Komarachun; performed by Kamonwan Thasanon (3:10)
# "Splendid Night Sky" – composed by Kaew Achariyakun and Eua Sunthornsanan; performed by Yaowaret Mathakhunnawut (3:04)
# "Mercy" – composed by Eua Sunthornsanan (3:01)
# "Kamsuanjan" ("The Moon Lament") – traditional (3:24)
# "Fon Sang Fah" ("When the Rain Bid the Sky Farewell") – composed by Suthin Thesarak (2:51)
# "Destiny" – composed by Wet Sunthonjamon (2:55)
# "Beautiful Beach" – composed by Sanae Komarachun (3:11)
# "Splendid Night Sky" – composed by Eua Sunthornsanan (3:04)
# "Horse Riding" (1:04)cite web | title = Soundtrack track listing | publisher = Soundtrack Collector | url = http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/catalog/soundtrackdetail.php?movieid=53994 | accessdate = 2006-12-14 ]

References and notes

External links

* [http://www.magpictures.com/profile.aspx?id=24307868-9b60-42e8-9a73-47efea0f8758 Synopsis and trailer] at Magnolia Pictures
* [http://www.filmbangkok.com/tears.htm Official site] at Film Bangkok th icon
*
*
*
* " [http://www.mrqe.com/lookup?Tears+of+the+Black+Tiger Tears of the Black Tiger] " at the Movie Review Query Engine
*
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* [http://www.movieseer.com/MovieProfileBil.asp?moID=144&Channel=2 "Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah Talai Jone)" at MovieSeer]
* " [http://www.cityonfire.com/thai/tearsblacktiger.html Tears of the Black Tiger] " at CityOnFire.com


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