Sunday, 20 June 2010

DARK DAY EXPRESS is MISSION HUNTER 2 (maybe) ... but WHICH one of them???

Gee, thanks, Jesus Manuel! Now I'm gonna have to spend the rest of the evening on this blog instead of going to the disco. LMAO.

Well, if you read JM's comments to my previous post you'll know he suggested that DARK DAY EXPRESS may very well be a Thai film (or part of it) entitled MISSION HUNTER 2 and he provided a link to a store called eThaiCD.com. That store by the way is highly recommended. They've got tons of cool stuff, their prices are low, and postage to anywhere in the world is free! In the past, I've bought quite a few films there which you can't get anywhere else.

For instance, Thailand was the first country to release SUMMERTIME KILLER on English friendly DVD way before the US DVD came out. The only less exciting thing you'll have to deal with with some of their releases is they're only on VCD! And since Thailand was never invaded by the British they've never had regulations that secured English subtitles like with films from Hong Kong. Gee, Britain, "thanks" for not invading Thailand. :-/
Hahaha.

Needless to say, I still don't have a copy of DARK DAY EXPRESS but I thought I might as well order the Thai VCD, not least because when other collectors (not least from KFC) find out about this they're gonna order the VCD which is soon gonna render it OOP and ultimately I'm gonna miss out on it. Well, *would have* if I hadn't ordered it right away. xD.

But, hey, of course it may not even be the same film!? O_O Maybe the HK company only used part of the cover for an unrelated film (or the Thai company did)? Who knows. But if that were the case it'd still mean I'd be getting yet another potentially cool trashy war flick. Yay.

Anyway, so I went to the Thai on-line web-store and discovered they had no less than FOUR VCD's with a film called MISSION HUNTER!! One was seemingly the first film and the remaining three were all alternative releases of the same MISSION HUNTER 2 film. Or so it seemed. But of course nothing's that simple in the world of trashy Vietnam war movies, is it. LOL.

I don't read Thai but some of the titles for MISSION HUNTER 2 don't look the same; If you read my reply to Jesus Manuel (in the last post) you'll see I discovered that one of the MISSION HUNTER 2 films has English subs. Well, actually I think the store fucked up that piece of info! Their subtitled VCD isn't MISSION HUNTER 2 but the first film, MISSION HUNTER. But then again... maybe MISSION HUNTER (the first one) is really the one they used for DARK DAY EXPERSS because the cover USES THE SAME IMAGES!! o_O

No, nothing comes easy in the world of psychotronic movies, does it. LOL. Anyhoo, like I said I've ordered the ones that weren't OOP (i.e. two of them) and whenever JM can get away from nappies and little newborn babies I'll try and bug him to ship a dvdr copy of the Spanish tape this way. :D

Here's the info for the four VCDs. If anybody can read Thai and can figure out what's what then I'd appreciate it heaps. Thanks.




Mission Hunter 2 [ VCD ] Movie ScreenShot
Thai movie : Mission Hunter 2 - เพชฌฆาต เดนสงคราม 2. Starring Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Jaa. (Re-listing)

Detail

Action

Mission Hunter 2
เพชฌฆาต เดนสงคราม 2

Starring : Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Jaa
[ ชาติชาย รักศิลป - คริสทอป - โรเบิร์ต คริสติน ]

2 VCDs
Sound : Thai

Story :
Mission Hunter 2 begins with an archaeologist being chased through the perilous jungles of remote Thailand by the heavily armed forces of a heroin producing gang. He has found a priceless artifact - the Golden Stone - and they want it. Bad. His partner is shot but by the time the goons capture him the archaeologist has managed to hide the stone somewhere they will never find it, a fact that condemns him to endless torture as they try to extract the information from him.

[click the screen grabs for bigger size]






Mission Hunter 2 [ VCD ] Movie
Thai movie : Mission Hunter 2 - เพชฌฆาต เดนสงคราม 2. Starring Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Jaa. (Re-listing)

Status : Currently not available.

Detail

Action

Mission Hunter 2
เพชฌฆาต เดนสงคราม 2

Starring : Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Jaa
[ ชาติชาย รักศิลป - คริสทอป - โรเบิร์ต คริสติน ]

2 VCDs
Sound : Thai





Mission Hunter 1 [ VCD ] Movie
Thai movie : Mission Hunter 1. Starring Punna Litkrai, Lek Aisoon, Ratree Withawat. (re-listing)

Status : Currently not available.

Detail

Action

Mission Hunter 1
เพชรฆาตเดนสงคราม

Starring : Punna Litkrai, Lek Aisoon, Ratree Withawat
[ พันนา ฤทธิ์ไกร - เล็ก ไอยศูรย์ - ราตรี วิทวัส ]

2 VCDs
Sound : Thai




Nuk Soo Dane Song Kram [ VCD ] Movie ScreenShot
Thai movie : Nuk Soo Dane Song Kram - นักสู้เดนสงคราม (Mission Hunter 2). Starring Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Ja. (re-listing)

Status : Usually ships within 2-3 days.

Detail

Action

Nuk Soo Dane Song Kram (Mission Hunter 2)
นักสู้เดนสงคราม

Starring : Punna Litkrai, Robert Christin, Chatchai Ruksilp, Tony Jaa
[ พันนา ฤทธิ์ไกร - โรเบิร์ต คริสต์ติน - ชาติชาย รักศิลป - จา พนม ]

2 VCDs
Sound : Thai
Runtime : 95 Mins


[click screen grabs for bigger size]


If you check the Thai title for MISSION HUNTER 2 it reads: เพชฌฆาต เดนสงคราม 2 but if you check the Thai title for the last film which they have also listed as MISSION HUNTER 2 it actually just says: นักสู้เดนสงคราม. My bet is they got it wrong at the store and the subtitled film is really MISSION HUNTER, not the sequel.


EDIT: Alright, after a wee bit more investigation it seems the subtitled MISSION HUNTER 2 really is MISSION HUNTER 2!!! But is it DARK DAY EXPRESS?? Who knows.


Here's a review of the film I found online. Thanks to the guy who wrote it five yrs ago (gee, he says the film even has ZOMBIES in it! NOW I really wanna watch it!).


First printed on Twitch.

Tony Jaa in Mission Hunter 2!

by Todd Brown, October 20, 2005 7:14 AM

When Tony Jaa burst on to the martial arts scene with Ong Bak many people mistakenly assumed that he had done just that: burst on to the scene as a fresh new face. What most didn't know was that Jaa had spent years prior to his break out role paying his dues as a member of Panna Rittikrai's stunt crew. And who is Rittikrai, you ask? Unknown outside Thailand until the double blow of Ong Bak - which he wrote and choreographed - and Born to Fight - which he wrote, choreographed and directed - Rittikrai has spent literally decades cobbling together a string of Thai action films on little more than loose change, a piece of string, pocket lint and a willingness to incur severe bodily damage upon himself. The current generation of Thai action stars leaving western audiences with their jaws on the floor? Rittikrai trained them all. But even film scholars would have been hard pressed to tell you who this man was just a few short years ago. He worked fast and cheap and his titles quickly dropped out of print. It is only with the massive international success of his recent work that Rittikrai's vast back catalog is reappearing in Thailand - albeit only on VCD thus far - and among the newly available titles is Mission Hunter 2, a film featuring a young Tony Jaa in an early, villainous, starring role.

Mission Hunter 2 begins with an archaeologist being chased through the perilous jungles of remote Thailand by the heavily armed forces of a heroin producing gang. He has found a priceless artifact - the Golden Stone - and they want it. Bad. His partner is shot but by the time the goons capture him the archaeologist has managed to hide the stone somewhere they will never find it, a fact that condemns him to endless torture as they try to extract the information from him.

Jump forward a year. Pratuang (played by Rittikrai) is a Thai mercenary hired by the missing archaelogist's daughter to return him home safely. After months of dead ends Pratuang has come across a photograph of his quarry, held captive in a bamboo cage deep in the jungle, surrounded by the heroin lord's private army. The odds are heavily against him but Pratuang is not one to turn down a job and so accompanied by his three regular accomplices, teh archaeologist's daughter, one insanely large and heavily muscled white journalist, and a kung fu enabled local guide, the group sets off on their search and rescue mission. But wait! There's more peril! Before even getting to the drug lord's domain they will first have to pass through the land of the Black Ghosts - a hostile, primitive jungle tribe who speak in gibberish sure to leave PC types apopleptic - and, wait for it, a zombie forest! Yes, this film has zombies. Well, zombie, actually, as the budget apparently didn't allow for more than one but he's of the kung fu enabled, decaying flesh variety, so it's all good.

Meanwhile, in the drug lord's remote jungle lair, a trio of high powered global crime bosses are paying a visit. Anxious to show of his power the crime boss brags about his unbeatable fighter Mohsean - played by Tony Jaa - and the visiting Japanese drug lord steps up to try his skills. Mayhem ensues.

Now, before I am accused of over hyping this, let me be very clear: Mission Hunter 2 is not the second - or first, for that matter - coming of Ong Bak. There is nothing here to compare with the level of martial arts work in Jaa's most famous film. The story has plot holes you could drive a truck through and the limited funds are apparent on more than one occassion. However, and this is a big however, Mission Hunter 2 isn't trying to be a big martial arts film. In fact, the more I dig into Rittikrai's back catalog the more obvious it becomes that although Rittikrai does a lot of martial arts in his films, and does them very well, what he really wants to make are big, dumb, early eighties style action extravaganzas in which a great many things blow up in a most satisfying fashion. And for what it wants to be Mission Hunter 2 succeeds and succeeds very well. From the wildly over exuberant score - which I'm sure must have been stolen because there's no way a film with a budget this tight actually paid for a full orchestra itself - to the goofy set pieces, to the grenades and bullets flying everywhere, to the not-Ong-Bak-caliber-but-still-pretty-damn-good martial arts sequences, the film is loaded with goofy, energetic charm. It's like Commando on crack with a bit of The Dirty Dozen and Rambo thrown in. Rittikrai does surprisingly little fighting himself in this, choosing instead to leave the marquee moments to Jaa, the Japanese crime boss, and the mercenary guide, each of whom get multiple cracks at things and each of whom impress.

Now, on to the presentation. This is a VCD release, which is never a good thing. Furthermore, this is a VCD release of an old, low budget film which nobody in their right mind would have ever thought to archive. Thus, it is a cheaply produced VCD. If a good VCD will give you roughly VHS quality, this one gives you the rough equivalent of a second generation dub. Pretty it aint. This is one that looks far, far better scaled down and viewed on a computer monitor than through a DVD player onto a television. Additionally, as is the case with almost all VCD releases, the film is panned and scanned, which hurts very badly on many occassions. Rittikrai is a director who loves to use the whole frame and there are a lot of moments where action is occuring outside the crop lines, which makes the choreography difficult to track and appreciate. There is one major plus, however. The disc is English subtitled, a rarity in the VCD world, and not only that but the subs are overlayed rather than being burnt in to the print. The translations good, and the subs are very easy to read and follow.

Is Mission Hunter 2 a classic? No, not by a healthy margin. It is, however, much more than a simple curiosity. It's a fun, entertaining piece of work that gives an early look at a man destined to be one of the biggest - if not the absolute biggest - martial arts stars of this generation. Word is the exhumation of old Jaa titles for DVD release has already begun, so I can only hope that this will get a better release in the near future. But in the meantime the VCD is only five bucks. Can't go wrong for that.


17 comments:

  1. I read all of this from start to finish and am pretty sure my head might have exploded if I had done all this. Thank you Jack!! Your cranium is much better reinforced than mine my friend.
    Awesome post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks!! :D

    I'll admit it was slightly confusing and that's exactly why I made the post: if not to try and get a grip on those different versions then at least hope some READER would figure it out and TELL ME about it. LOL.

    PS: I made a couple of linguistic changes so now you'll have to read it all over again. xD.

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  3. Mission Hunter 2 was also released as Battle Warrior on a nice US DVD (which you probably mentioned somewhere in this gargantua of text) and it's a damn fine little film! It has an early part for Tony Jaa, but it's more a good old jungle action movie with some impressive scenes of action.

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  4. Judging by the screenshots on the back of Dark Day Express, I think it's not Mission Hunter 2 but the first one - but I learned to never trust ANY info on these old tapes anyway :)

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  5. Thanks, Fred. Somehow I knew you were gonna chuck in your two pennies. And thanks for that! :D
    I've just found the DVD on Amazon.com and it's interesting to see it's actually put out by one of the (if not thee) worst bootleg companies ever; Videoasia. They actually bought a print of the lost original English dubbed version of THE BIG BOSS but they were threatened not to release it.

    Hmm, I don't suppose you know if MISSION HUNTER 2/Battle Warrior has ANYTHING to do with DARK DAY EXPRESS? Did they use any of it for a "new" cut & paste film??

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  6. Ops, I was writing my reply while you posted your second one. Alright, so you don't think it's #2. Hmm, I guess I'll have to try and get a print of the Spanish tape. Thanks again.

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  7. The DVD of Battle Warrior I have is excellent actually, it's a 2-disc and the quality is very fine - except that there's something wrong with the format - but you'll just have to change the settings on the dvd or tv to get it right:

    http://www.axelmusic.com/productDetails/687797908896

    It seems very official, but I wonder if this DVD wasn't prepared for BCI but maybe they sold the package to Videoasia then? Anyway, it's a good DVD :)

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  8. I suggested Dark Day express may be mission hunter 2 based on the desing of the art cover, but after I read the review & compared it to the synopsis in the Spanish VHS, there are a lot ( really a lot of) chances they are the same movie.
    Dark day express, according to the back cover synopsis is about a kind of doctor who is searching for a hidden treasure in the jungle.

    Of course, i am just doing some speculations since I haven't seen the movies but I have a real feeling they are the same.
    For example the Spanish video art of Filmark's THE SPY INFERNO has exactly the same design as the original movie source

    http://www.ethaicd.com/show.php?pid=36996

    I am sorry I don't have the Spanish art cover here, but as I stated above it is exactly the same with just some minor variations.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's alright, JM. We'll find out down the road.

    Thanks, Fred.

    ReplyDelete
  10. - and "Suer Pooparn" which you linked to looks like another trashy war flicks that could be worth a check out! :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Suer Pooparn is the source movie of Filmark's THE SPY INFERNO. I have it, there is no speculations about it.
    no so good as it seems...really.

    Also KRAI TONG 2 starring Sorapong Chatri is the source movie for Filmark's COCRODILE FURY.

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  12. Mustached Actor:Christoph Klüppel

    In Gold We Trust trailer:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yr9NLDGH0s0

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey there, Anonymous!
    Thanks for the info the link. Much appreciated! I've actually recently got hold of an English language print of DARK DAY EXPRESS but haven't watched it yet. :D

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  14. here is a vhs scan:
    (not mine)
    http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/655/darkdayexpress.jpg

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  15. Hey there,
    Thanks, mate. I appreciate that! :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. So, being an 80's action film connoisseur, I decided to jump in and get you your answer.

    Today, I just got my copy of "Mission Hunter 2" in the mail from eThaiCD, and I say with confidence that Dark Day Express is most likely Mission Hunter 1. Nothing from DDE is the same other than some common actors is seen in MH2. Since I have a copy of DDE, I can say that MH2 as provided by eThaiVCD is not the same film. The white dude isn't even prominent in MH2, while in DDE, he's pretty much the center...and it's a totally different film.

    Also, on a similar story; everything labelled Mission Hunter 2 on eThaiCD is the same movie, even though the covers are different.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Heavy Weapon,

    Firstly, sorry for this late reply, the email notification got buried in a big pile of emails. LOL. And secondly, thanks for settling that!! Sometimes it like a JUNGLE with these films (which is ironic, LOL). Where did you get DARK DAY EXPRESS if you don't mind me asking. Is it the same copy off an old screener VHS that I've got or from a legit VHS or print??

    Thanks for your comment once again.

    ReplyDelete

Yes, we have a comment filter now! It seems most comments these days come from shit spammers in India so there you go.

Bikini girls with machine guns

Yep, this video is from the one they're watching in Tarantino's JACKIE BROWN. It's an awesome video; I mean all it is is a bunch of scantly clad sexy babes with automatic guns going: "This is an AK47" pow pow pow pow - Haha. Absolutely fantastic! xD.