Tears of the Black Tiger feels like a movie made a hundred years from now, when filmmakers have only the vaguest notion of the boundaries we in the past recognized between genres. It's one part Rebel Without a Cause, one part bloody Peckinpah, one part early Sam Raimi, and one part Bollywood-style frivolity with a Thai twist. Despite the love and enormous amount of work that obviously went into the making of it, I can't honestly say the film works. It's too eager to please, too overconfident in its ability to impress, and generally too over-the-top to make for a good experience. The press materials claim that Tears of the Black Tiger "offers nostalgia as future shock." I don't know what that means, frankly, but I guess it has something to do with the fact that one minute the film can be presenting itself as a serious western, and the next minute it is showing us animated bullets knocking against each other in mid-air like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon.
Written and directed by Wisit Sasanatieng, the film is the story of Sera Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), a poor peasant who falls in love with Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi) a girl who lives in a giant, antebellum-style mansion and has little to do but lounge around all day in gazebos and wait for someone to come along and throw her over their shoulder. The murder of Dum's father causes him to descend into an outlaw circuit, where he soon distinguishes himself as "Black Tiger" a straight-shooting gunslinger who can actually direct the ricochet of a bullet to its intended target. (uh-huh) By the time Black Tiger has blown enough holes through people to work his way back to Rumpoey's world, she is already betrothed to a slimy police captain who has no intention of giving up any ground. It's The Departed, only with bad humor instead of good, an unnecessary Pulp Fiction-style time jumble, and a palpable absence of seriousness that makes us care very little whether the good guy or the bad guy gets the girl.