Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chocolate: Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda

Chocolate is a 2008 Thai martial arts film directed by Prachya Pinkaew with martial arts choreography by Panna Rittikrai, the same pair who directed Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong. The star of Chocolate is Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda, who makes her debut film performance. Hiroshi Abe and Pongpat Wachirabunjong also star.

A young autistic woman named Zen (Yanin Vismistananda) has developed uncanny martial arts skills by watching television, and from living next door to a Muay Thai academy.

The girl is the daughter of Zin (Ammara Siripong), the Thai wife of Yakuza boss Masashi (Hiroshi Abe).

Zin was previously the girlfriend of Thai gangster No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong), who was jealous of her relationship with rival gangster Masashi, so he cut off one of Zin's toes, and forbade her from seeing Masashi.

Zin then falls ill with cancer, and does not have the money to pay for treatments. One day, Zen's friend discovers a list of debtors in an old notebook, from the days when Zin was a high-interest moneylender under No. 8. In order to get money to pay for her mother's cancer treatment, Zen decides to collect on the debts, which leads to confrontations with various criminal gangs and, eventually, No. 8.

The star of Chocolate, Yanin Vismistananda, was discovered by director Prachya Pinkaew in 2003 when the director was working on casting sessions for Panna Rittikrai's directorial effort, Born to Fight.

Already experienced in taekwondo, Yanin underwent more training with Panna Rittikrai's stunt team.

The script for Chocolate was then developed with Yanin in mind.

The film was in production during 2006 and 2007, with promotional efforts including a cast appearance at the Bangkok Film Market during the 2007 Bangkok International Film Festival in July.

A three-minute promotional video was released online in early January, showing action scenes from the film as well as outtakes of what appeared to be painful injuries for the star and stuntmen.

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