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In Love and War: Legend of King Naresuan 3 Under-Delivers Action and Romance but Gears Up for Part 4
  By Sorradithep Supachanya / 31 March 2011
  LINK : all about The Legend of King Naresuan 1-4
   
 

 

The third installment of Prince Chatrichalerm Yukols historical epic The Legend of King Naresuan was probably born out of business necessity to help recoup some of its overrun production budget attributing to its grandiose battle scenes. To justify a theatrical release, the less eventful period of the titular kings life is expanded to include various subplots and new characters that add neither to the progress of the story nor the development of the main leads. Consequently the excitement of its prequels loses momentum, and part 3 comes across as just a seat warmer for the highly anticipated finale in part 4.

The film picks up where its predecessor has left off. After King Naresuan (Wanchana Sawasdee) renounced Ayutthayas allegiance to the Burmese kingdom of Pegu and led an exodus of hostaged Siamese home, Burmese King Nanda Bayin (Jakrit Amarat) launched a series of attacks to punish the Thai kingdom as a recalcitrant vassal state. Faced with espionage and impending invasions from multiple directions, King Naresuan engages in political and military alliances and exercises his mastery of the arts of war to successfully defend his kingdoms sovereignty from foreign rule.

 

 

Needless to say, war film buffs would not be disappointed. Guns, cannons, explosions, elephants, and sword fights fill much of the screen time. The breathtaking hot pursuit of the Chinese spy on fast ships constitutes a first of such spectacular re-enactment in Thai cinema, as a life-size, operational 16th-century Chinese junk was constructed just for the scene.

Story-wise, however, none of these battle scenes provide additional dimensions to the main characters. They do not show any side of King Naresuan or his spiritual advisor the temple abbot Mahathera Khanchong (Sorapong Chatree) that the audience has not seen before, nor do they intensify the Burmese kings desperation to re-subjugate Ayutthaya. The disappointingly blunt scene involving King Nanda Bayins outburst against his incompetent son (Napasakorn Mit-Em) surely deserves further elaboration, as the sons unrequited yearning for his fathers love probably fuels his vendetta against the Siamese king that culminates in the fatal elephant battle in the upcoming part 4.

 

 

In the off-battle scenes, the film teases viewers with romance and love triangles that eventually go nowhere. King Naresuan and his childhood sweetheart Maneejan (Taksaorn Phaksukcharoen) do nothing more than exchanging a few glances. Lerkin (Inthira Charoenpura), the fictional princess of an Ayutthayas political allies, finds herself torn between a leader of her tribe (Dom Hetrakul) and King Naresuans lieutenant Phra Ratchamanu (Noppachai Chai-Ngam). Moreover, Phra Ratchamanu later meets a capricious palace girl Ratanawadee (Akamsiri Suwannasuk) who complicates his pursuit of Lerkin. But by the end of the film, nothing gets resolved; no loose ends are tied.

Minor characters seem to get better treatment. Veteran actor Supakorn Kitsuwan steals the scene with his small role as Kam, a deaf-mute villager who saves Phra Ratchamanus life. And Grace Mahadamrongkul shines as King Naresuans sister who remains strong-willed in the face of the Burmese belligerence. But their brief moments still do not impact how the plot unfolds.

All in all, with flat characters and sluggish story, the film struggles to stand on its own. But perhaps the films true purpose can be inferred from King Naresuans final line: We expect much greater battles ahead. Part 3 only serves to work up the appetite for greater, more breathtaking battles that are planned for the sequel(s), particularly the highly anticipated elephant battle with King Nanda Bayins son, which was the pivotal battle of the long-running 16th-century Thai-Burmese war and has been much romanticized in Thai literature. If so, the film clearly succeeds as the audience is certainly gearing up for more.

   

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