Post-108: “Countdown”, a Fine Movie From Thailand

This week, there is a film festival going on in Bucheon (where I live as of this writing). It is called Pifan.

I saw a “Thai” movie at Pifan called “Countdown“. It was Thai in that the actors and director are from Thailand, and some Thai language is used in the movie, but mostly it is in English. It revolves around three Thais of university age who live together in New York City who are harassed by a drug dealer named “Jesus” (as in, Hey-zeus).

The movie was quite amazing, and not what I expected. I recommend it. Here is a good review of “Countdown”, from where I stole the above poster. I’d dispute that it was actually a Horror movie. Thriller may be more like it. The Pifan directory listed it as “Comedy”, and it does have a lot of that.

Here is a trailer, which really aims to make you think it’s a straight horror movie (which it isn’t):

Another review, by an American (though I question what kind of American would use the word “flat”).

Actually the movie turned out to be, in the end, —– [If you plan to watch the movie, don’t read the rest of this paragraph]  —————– [spoilers] a Buddhist morality tale. The big plot turn was [spoilers] [spoilers] that the White man turned out to be fluent in Thai (see below). He turned out [spoilers] not to be another murderous maniac, but actually an enforcer of “karma”, or something. The idea may have been that he was some kind of supernatural being. He knew all the dark secrets of the three young Thais, and forced them to confess them to each other and to their parents, and then forced them to recite the five Buddhist Precepts perfectly or he would kill them. It turned out that these attractive young people were all actually “bad”, and the unkempt, dirty maniac White man was the “good” one (or at least one might argue so).

Some searching on the Internet reveals the White actor in the movie to be David Asavanond, who is three-quarters French and one-quarter Thai (I presume Thai-Chinese). His picture:


David Asavanond

The three main actors in this movie were Thai-Chinese. (Pachara Chirathivat: Born into one of the the richest Chinese-Thai family, his wiki says. / Jarinporn Jookiat: Obviously Chinese by ancestry. / Patsaya Kreursuwansiri: She really looks like Korean pop star in this movie, i.e. also obviously Chinese). The director looks Chinese. He also looks a lot like “Steven”, a former Korean co-worker at my present workplace. Here he is:

Nattawut Poonpiriya, Director of “Countdown”

The Chinese totally dominate Thailand, I was told once, to which I nodded along. Okay, fine, they control Thailand. Big deal. I didn’t appreciate what that meant. Chinese are only 15% of the population, and another 25% or so claims partial Chinese ancestry, the Internet says. The majority looks more like this. It really came home, to me, to see a Thai movie that was directed, produced, financed, and acted entirely by Thai-Chinese people.

I think Koreans could relate well to the Thai-Chinese. Example: A big theme of the movie was that studying abroad is (or can be) wrong, dangerous, cowardly, lazy, immoral.  The male lead in the movie, in his early 20s, spent three years in a New York language-school, and had still not been admitted to any college, but rather lavishly spent his dad’s money on partying. A lot of Koreans have this attitude towards Koreans who go abroad to study. My first boss did. Ironically, her daughter (in 10th grade) now studies in Canada! (Double ironically, the boss went with her).

I liked “Countdown”. The bad part was that the only seats available were in the front row. My neck still hurts a little. It may be the only one I get to see, too, as the movies play from 2-10 PM during the week, exactly my work hours.