Thailand gets into the disaster movie mix with their 2009 film which saw its UK release two weeks ago. It’s confusing, strangely edited and has missing words in the subtitles but all in all, is still quite watchable although its eclipsed by more competent and lavish Eastern disaster movies.
With the clumsiest naturist message ever put to film, humans have basically stressed the Earth into wreaking havoc by unleashing a tidal wave on Thailand. Eek!
The Disasters Faced
Confused acting, scream inducing flashbacks, tidal waves, big statues and a race against time to save the CGI dolphin!
Death Wave is certainly the first Thai film I’ve seen and with its modest $4 million budget, we know that effects will not be fantastic. What we don’t realise is that we will get some of the most heavy handed environmentalist messages ever committed to film in a script thats more wooden than Jake the Peg’s extra leg. Maybe the Thai language is more poetic than the subtitles relay across but between that the the scientists wandering around discussing off screen disasters as a matter of coffee break talk, nothing really flows nor adds up properly. The other strange production choice is the constantly moving, shaking, amatuerish camerawork designed to make everything look edgey. It makes everything look quite annoying instead. Just. Stay. Still. The third problem with the film really is the running time – its too short! At 90 minutes, normally you can squeeze everything in, but here the movie jumps around from pillar to post and too many characters blur from not having their stories either set up properly or pay off at all. Two main characters have a great heart felt cry about their parents they lost in the 2004 Tsunami (the film takes place in 2022) and sets them up to be protagonists but all they do is splash about a bit afterwards. Maybe the running time is not the root of the problem, but more of a redirection of some of the airtime away from all the science and placed back with the characters. The end result leaves you cold for all the characters as you haven’t got to know the ones dominating the screen.
The effects range in extremes. The floodest sets are fantastic but the CGI is sometimes really awful – such as the dolphin (why oh why) and CGI smoke which is actually just black blobs! The actual wave iitself isn’t so bad thankfully and there’s some good work done there. It’s interesting however that the film uses stock footage from 2004 for character flashbacks to the real tsunami. I’m sure it could spark a debate on whether or not its too soon.
Why It’s Worth Watching
Aside from it being Thailand’s first entry into the disaster foray, the last twenty minutes where the wave hits does entertain with its craziness. The fact that Thailand was caught in 2004’s awful tradegy adds weight to the film itself and its quite surprising how blatently environmentalist the film is. The themes are not just that we’ve killed the planet on a large scale, but the main undercurrent story is about the commercialization of Thailand’s coast and how they’re portrayed in this film is very cut and dry. Obviously vote Green party!
Not one character dies on screen although one death is alluded to but again, in the confused delivery of the film I’m not even sure he died. Poor old Doctor! That beard was legendary…
It has the be the Prime Minister. Could you see your leader flying around in an air rescue copter lifting school children to safety? Ah… we can but dream!
There are a few. Mr Dolphin takes the biscuit – its the most random plot device to get someone else to cry. However most random moment award goes to the doctor whom from nowhere goes vigilante and electro-stuns his assistant so he can go down to the sea lab without her. Where did this magical device appear from!? There’s a whole lot of random in this film!
Rushed, misguided and rough around the edges, Death Wave is a strange film. It has historical importance but is so heavily stilted in its angered delivery its actually offputting to watch. However persevere because there’s some good entertainment to be had with Death Wave, but it certainly doesn’t hit the top Eastern disaster movies for me at all.