This Thai action film is a standard action film that may not be an Ong-Bak or Chocolate, but is all in all, not too shabby.
In 19th Century Thailand, the royal palace is broken into by members of the Poisoned Knife clan. The clan steals royal artifacts but they were all stopped by the royal guards. However, the artifacts were hidden before the thieves met their fates. Flash forward to the present day. General Wisa, a mafia boss whose ancestors were the ones responsible for leading the original theft, wants the artifacts.
Wisa hires Patrick, a former U.S. military operative whose girlfriend Selina is an assassin, to retrieve the artifacts, which are now located at a temple. When Patrick and Selina steal the artifacts and kill Kirk, one of the temple boys who attempts to pawn one of the artifacts, they think they be able to make this an easy job. However, what they don’t rely on is that Kirk’s twin brother Krit wants both the artifacts and revenge for his brother’s death. To help Krit is archaeology student Praifa and an adventure begins to bring back the national treasures and avenge Kirk’s death.
In 2007, an attempt to launch a new action star in Thailand resulted in Brave, which starred a stuntman named Piroj Boongerd in a lead role. Boongerd would be known as simply “Mike B.” and the film was met with mixed reactions. In this follow-up, Mike B. plays twin brothers, one who gets killed and the other seeking not only seeking revenge but must retrieve some national treasures. With Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, and Jeeja Yanin breaking out by the time this film was released, it seems like Mike B. may just become somewhat of a footnote in Thai action cinema by this point.
To add some international flavor in the film, Russell Wong takes on the role of main villain Patrick, who is basically a mercenary who takes the job of retrieving the precious artifacts for the descendant of the original thieves as seen in a pretty good flashback. Winston Omega (known to martial arts fans as the mentor of British martial arts action star Gary Daniels) is quite vicious as General Wisa, the one who wants the artifacts to keep the legacy of his ancestors going. Intira Jaroenpura provides ample support for Mike B. as archaeology student Praifa while Patharawarin Timkul provides even better support as Patrick’s girlfriend, the assassin Selina.
The action of the film, choreographed by both Mike B. and Tawatchai Ladloi, more or less attempts to emulate the late great Panna Rittikrai, who had worked with both of these guys on occasions. However, it’s not a complete Ong-Bak like style of maneuvers, but has touches of that. A plus is that Mike B. does have some talents to tackle as opponents, such as Ron Smoorenburg (whose fight scene actually comes from a film that was originally slated to be Mike B.’s debut but never came to fruition), Erik Markus Schuetz, and Brahim Achabbakhe. Wong does have some action time himself and still can hold his own when having to confront Mike B. by the final reel. However, it’s nothing groundbreaking but still watchable.
The Sanctuary is pretty much the equivalent of a B-movie of the 1990’s heyday of martial arts action films. While it’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s still a fun 80-minute action ride that highlights Mike B. with some pretty good talents as opponents.
WFG RATING: B-
A Film Frame Productions/Pechpanna Productions production in association with Action Slate Films. Director: Thanapon Maliwan. Producers: Thanapon Maliwan, Chokchai Pechpanna, and Russell Wong. Writers: Anuwat Kaewsopark and Thanapon Maliwan. Cinematography: Arnon Chunprasert. Editing: Sombat Thepkumdee.
Cast: Mike B., Russell Wong, Intira Jaroenpura, Patharawarin Timkul, Erik Markus Schuetz, Winston Omega, Brahim Achabbakhe, Kecha Khamphakdee, Ron Smoorenburg.