Headless Hero (2002)

Directed by
Enjoyable comedy film
Reviewed by Simon on 2012-05-25

Pii Hua Kaad, Pee Hua Kard, spell it how you like you won't find it in IMDB.

ethaicd tells me the movie won "best comedy movie 2002", which was reason enough to pick it up. Strangely, it's not that much of a comedy... or rather, in places it is and in (more) places its not. The DVD cover makes it look like a horror comedy - not an uncommon genre these days. But it's not a horror movie. Except in places it is, and in (more) places it isn't. I can certainly see the dilemma the cover artists were in though, because trying to put Pii Hua Kard in one genre is very difficult, since it jumps around all over the place. It might be said it’s a mess, but it turns out to be the movies greatest strength, so I prefer to say it has an unusual structure. At the final call, all you can say about the movie uncontroversially is "it's a story about some guy". But isn't that enough?

Some guy in this case happens to be called Diew. He's a young and handsome kick boxer whose father has recently died. His father tells him to head to this particular village and seek out Mr Groan, his former trainer, who will take him in. Diew arrives at the village, falls in love with a beautiful local girl and makes enemies of the local hoodlums. Then a bunch of other stuff happens. Much of it is quite interesting.

PII HUA KAAD is one of those movies that probably works best the less you know about it, since it keeps feeding you surprises. That includes, if possible, not looking at the DVD cover at all.

The first scene of the movie actually does very well fit the "horror comedy" category. A group of villagers are digging in a graveyard late at night, exhuming the corpse of a pregnant woman from which they can make a powerful love potion. The leader accidentally casts the wrong spell though, and all the bodies in the graveyard rise up and begin harrassing them. Their escape involves some dubious toilet humour. It's not a terribly good opening scene, but then the movie totally changes direction after 5 minutes and the whole thing proves to have just been the setup for a running joke with one of the side characters.

There are quite a lot of characters in the movie, each with their own little piece of story. This is one of the reasons the script covers so much territory.

Comedy does run through the film, intermittently but never too far away. Some scenes are genuinely funny, whilst others are just silly. One running gag is that one of the characters always mis-hears everything that's said to him. Unfortunately, if you don't understand Thai the humour of this is mostly lost because it just seems random.

Performances in the movie are all good. I haven't seen the lead actor anywhere before, but he has a great screen presence and is in good physical shape - I expect him to go fairly far.

Besides the comedy and the few moments of horror, the movie contains drama, romance and action. There are some fairly well filmed bouts of kickboxing and a great race that I won't describe in any detail. The movie starts out quite weakly, but builds up in an elliptic way until it becomes much more interesting and enjoyable. The diversity of scenes is the greatest strength, as there's always something new happening. At heart it's still just a story about a guy, but it's a good story about a likeable guy.