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The Gangster ("Antapal")

Canadian Premiere
  • Thailand
  • 2012
  • 114 mins
  • HD
  • Thai
  • English (subtitles)

“One of this year’s must-watch action flicks — and one that’s not afraid to shoot straight in its portrayal of 1950s Thailand” - Vasachol Quadri, BK ASIA CITY

This is a tale of two ages, an age of knives — and an age of guns. Change is in the air in late-1950s Bangkok. Rock ’n’ roll rubs shoulders with repression by the authorities. The young men of the slums look up to Elvis Presley, Buddha and the bosses of the local gangs. Criminal culture is growing in power, fearlessness and glamour. Epitomizing the rise of the gangster in Thailand are Daeng and Jod, best friends whose bond is tougher than the underworld power plays pulling at them. Soft-spoken in the manner of a man sure of his resilience, Jod makes a name for himself by taking his own boss’s life in a desperate, no-way-out-but-survive knife fight — a respectful if ruthless ritual for two men who cannot lose face. Jod and Daeng are soon under the wing of Boss Lor, whose cheerful demeanour hides a heart of steel. A pair of teenage boys living in storage room of the local cinema, meanwhile, watch Deaeng and Jog worshipfully, with every intention of following in their footsteps. The stakes are rising, however, the cops and military are tightening their grip, and there are dangerous loose cannons within the ranks of the gang…

Suphanahong Award-winning director Kongkiat Khomsiri (MUAY THAI CHAYA, SLICE) deftly blends humane melodrama, brutal street violence, intricate criminal politics and greasy-haired rock ’n’ roll hoodlum cool in his immersive evocation of the Thai gangster scene at a dangerous, dynamic time in history. Interspersed throughout the films are effective true-life documentary clips of elderly Thai folk reflecting back on that moment — the men with sadness and admiration, the women with more than a little fondness for the handsome, swaggering bad boys of the streets of Bangkok. THE GANGSTER is the latest Thai film to spotlight the story of real-life, iconic crime figure Daeng Bireley, but it is his comrade Jod who pins down the film, played with quiet, clear intensity by Krisada Sukosol Clapp (the award-winning star of BELOVED 13!). Cool, convincing, gritty yet threaded with a certain romantic nostalgia, THE GANGSTER elbows its way to the front row of international crime-saga cinema.

— Rupert Bottenberg