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Yak The Giant King: Daring, Enthralling, Moving
  By Sorradithep Supachanya /5 October 2012
 

 

 

Tell me if this sounds crazy: interpreting the 18th-century Thai adaptation of ancient Hindu mythologies as an action-comedy buddy film involving anthropomorphic, amnesiac robots in a post-apocalyptic world. Now let me tell you whats crazier: the fact that this premise actually works.

Yak: The Giant King, Thailands latest computer-generated animation from first-time director Prapat Chonsaranont, reimagines Ramakien, the Thai version of the Hindu epic Ramayana, as the battle between robots. Long after the war that destroys both sides and reduces the event to only a legend from a distant past, a scavenger robot stumbles upon arch-enemies Hanuman the monkey god (voiced by comedian Kiatisak Udomnak) and Thotsakan the demon king (voiced by film legend Santisuk Promsiri), both of whom now have no memories of who they were. Chained together, their reluctant misadventures turn into a valuable lesson on duty, friendship, and sacrifice.

Both kids and adults can enjoy the carefully crafted visuals, the frequent comic reliefs, and the many riveting scenes of the two lead characters narrowly escaping dangers, including a highly imaginative one in which the sun races on the railroad tracks. While kids will easily pick up the simple, explicit message of friends dont leave friends behind, adults may appreciate the films more subtle and timely implications, like how some of us already know what purpose we serve but others must endure various functions before discovering what exactly we were designed to do.

Its musical numbers lacks emotional power. Kumphakan, the main antagonist robot, spends half its screen time being inexplicably evil and the other half pathetically (un)comical. His sidekick, the machinery bird, lacks a personality, and his demise seems all too easy. Furthermore, the final battle scene between the two leads proves too long and altogether unnecessary.

But even with these shortcomings, Yak: The Giant King is a variant effort that deserves applause. Rich in imagination, audacious in its execution, and relevant in its implication, this is a film whose gamble certainly pays off.

   

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