The King Maker (2005)

 

 

 

Director:  Lek Kitaparaporn. 

Starring:  Gary Stretch (Fernando De Gamma), Cindy Burbridge (Maria), John Rhys-Davies (Phillippe), Dom Hetrakul (Tong), Yoe Hassadeevichit (Queen Sudachan ), Dean Alexandrou (Ninja), Akara Amarttayakul (Pan Bud Sri Thep), Prasita Katirattanachai (Tong's daughter), Rattanaporn Klongkan (Maria's maid), Peter Maiocchi (Singha), Faisal Zakaria Mohamed (Queen's bodyguard), Francisco Pereira (Antonio), Uraiwan Phattanasilp (Malee), Antonio Pineda (Don Vincenti), Oliver Pupart (Lord Chakkraphat), Amora Purananda (Yai Jun), Nirut Sirichanya (King Chairacha), Mark Sobels (Father Pedro).

 in 1547 the Portuguese soldier of fortune Fernando De Gama comes to Thailand and finds adventure

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

Ayothaya, Siam 1547.  Soldier of Fortune Fernando de Gama's ship wrecks and he is washed on shore in Siam (now Thailand).  He is captured by Arab slave traders.  He is taken into the city where he is put up for sale as a slave.  Fernando, however, escapes and runs for his life.  The slavers eventually capture him, but luckily a fellow European Maria de Torres saves him from harm.  She then buys him from his owners.  Fernando wakes up in a room in the Catholic church. 

The King of Lanna refuses to pay tribute to the King of Ayothaya and sends the head of his tax collector instead.  The King of Ayothaya, King Sirichanya, decides to go to war against the King of Lanna.  The Queen, Queen Sudachan, wanted to see her husband, but now he has to decline.  She becomes very furious and says that she will make him pay for his indiscretions. 

Maria takes Fernando to meet her father, Phillippe de Torres.  Fernando immediately recognizes him as the murderer of his father, who was a business partner of de Torres.  De Torres thinks he has seen Fernando somewhere before, but can't quite place him.  Fernando says that he was going to be a mercenary soldier for the King of Burma until his ship wrecked. 

The king's emissary arrives in the Portuguese community.  He brings news that the King is going to war and that he wants the Portuguese to participate.  De Torres agrees.  They all march out to war. 

Wile the King is gone, the Queen has sex with her lover Phan.  She throws up and tells her beloved that she is pregnant with their baby.  She tells the father-to-be that "We are going to rule the kingdom together." 

The king's brother brings 10,000 men with him to join in the battle.  Fernando dreams of his father, murdered by a man he thought was his friend.  The next morning the two armies meet in battle.  A great many men on both sides are killed.  In the battle Fernando is able to save the life of a very good axe fighter named Tong.  The two become good friends. 

When the battle is over the Queen sends for de Torres.  She wants him to perform a valuable service for her. 

Another tribe, this one from the south, attacks the King's forces, but they are quickly pushed back.  The king awards Fernando and Tong for their brave performances in the battle by making them his personal body guards.  Tong introduces his family to Fernando and Maria.  Walking Maria home, Fernando sees a Japanese ninja leave the home of de Torres. 

The Queen appoints her lover to be her new court administrator.  Now he can come and go as he pleases without arousing suspicion.  

Fernando tells Maria that he is going to sail with the captain of the Delgado to Goa to track down a man he has wanted for a long time.  Maria is very upset about his leaving.  Fernando asks her: "Please wait for me."  That night her father tells her that soon they will go back to Portugal for for good.  Dad says he is about to be rewarded for his long service of nine years in Siam. 

The next morning Maria runs down to the dock to see Fernando, but when she arrives his boat has already sailed.  She is very dejected, but then is immediately cheered when she sees Fernando on the dock.  He tells her:  "I could not leave you." 

Japanese ninjas invade the palace and try to kill the king.  But the king's guards, along with Tong and Fernando, are able to stop them.  The king then gives Tong and Fernando the job of finding out the person or persons responsible for this attempt on his life.  Fernando talks to Maria about her father.  She can't believe that her father is suspected of treachery.  Fernando shows her a document where her real name is presented.  It is de Favier.  Philippe de Torres is actually Philippe de Favier.  Obviously, this puts a strain in the relationship between Fernando and Maria. 

The Queen makes a trip to see the witch.  She gets from her a poison that kills almost immediately.  After the transaction, she sends her cart driver to kill the witch, but she sees the man approaching and escapes. 

Fernando finds de Favier.  He tells the man that his father's real name was de Monterio, de Favier's business partner.  De Favier explains that his father and he got into an argument and they fought.  In the struggle de Favier won.  De Favier also says that he is not going to go with Fernando.  Instead, he forces Fernando to fight him using swords.  Tong arrives.  When de Favier starts to rush Fernando, Tong throws his axe and kills the man.  Fernando is upset over the death.  He also tells Tong that they needed the man alive because the man was not working alone. 

The guards stop the witch and Tong and Fernando question her.  They then take her to see the king.  Meanwhile, Queen Sudachan puts poison in the drink for the king.  The king is near death.  The Queen also has her young son by the king killed. She then pretends she is heart-broken.  She rushes to the king's side.  When she sees that he is still alive, she smothers him with her chest.   Tong, Fernando and the witch arrive too late to see the king.  Instead, the Queen has the witch immediately killed and has Tong and Fernando arrested.   

The Queen then has a list of her enemies killed.  She then tells the court that she had a dream in which her husband told her that his new successor would be her new court administrator.  Phan acts humble and surprised.  He is crowned the new king. 

In jail Tong and Fernando see Tong's family and Maria brought in to jail too.  Maria wants nothing to do with Fernando.  She tells him:  "You have destroyed me!" 

The King has Tong and Fernando fight each other to the death like ancient Roman gladiators.  The one who wins will have his loved one/ones killed quickly, while the loser will have his loved one suffer a long, painful death.  The two men fight, but just at the time of the climax of the fight the two gladiators throw their weapons at the king and queen.  Tong's axe kills the king, while Fernando's sword just misses the queen.  Now the Queen is really mad and she wants to kill the two men herself with Tong's axe.  Just as she is about to strike the first blow, the deceased king's brother grabs her hand.  He tells everyone that the Queen was the one who killed his brother and her own son.  When the Queen denies it, he provides proof.  He tells the guards to take Queen Sudachan away, cut her head off and impale it on a stick for all to see her punishment. 

Tong and Fernando are reunited with their loved ones. 

The new king, King Chakkraptat, was crowned July 4, 1547.  The King of Burma concluded from the whole episode that Siam was in disarray and so he attacked Siam.  Thus began the many battles that led to the eventual downfall of the kingdom of Ayothaya in 1559.

 

Pretty good film.  There is a lot of swash buckling and fighting in this movie with the fighters flying through the air as is the new style in these Asian fight films.  So it's a good action movie.  And then there was the wicked Queen who tried to grab power for herself and her lover.  The actress playing the queen was lovely, but her voice irritated me  -- it was just too rough and deep.  But that's a minor complaint.  I thought the two actors playing the lead roles of Fernando and Maria were a bit weak in their performances, but for most movie goers this would be another minor complaint because they would be happy with the action sequences.   

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

see The Legend of Suriyothai (2001)

 

 

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