Review: One Take Only (2001)

Directed by:
Cast: ,

Distributed in Australia by:

Once again the Pang Brothers have provided us a film that is more like a music video or flashy commercial than a feature film. However, unlike their other filmic ventures, One Take Only falls far short of excellence.

Directed by Oxide Pang, One Take Only is somewhat comparable to the gamut of generic gangster/hit-man genre films coming from Asia over the last fifteen years. What sets this film apart from the rest is the Pang Brothers’ usage of film style, and believe me, they are flagrant with their use! The film is packed with flashy whip-pans, speed zooms, jump cuts, slow motion, fast motion, match on actions, and of course, moments of intense black and white photography (and the list goes on). With all the eye candy, how can you get bored? Unfortunately, due to the lacking narrative development, the answer is, pretty easily.

One Take Only seems to have lost the balance between narrative and style that made Bangkok Dangerous so absorbing. This may be because a lot of the film was apparently improvised during principal photography. In some cases, improvisation works, encouraging filmmakers to establish a unique sense of style and character development. However, in this case, it seems to have hindered the film.

One Take Only progresses rather unexcitingly, rarely building to any truly tense or emotional moments. The film delves into a poor character study, which through certain elements, attempts to analyse the problems plaguing Thai youth society. An example can be seen through Bank and Som’s characters, their occupations, (drug dealer and prostitute), both representing extremely serious problems in contemporary Thai society.

It seems that Oxide relies on his mastery of the formal elements too much in order to make the film more entertaining. Like most of the Pang Brothers’ films, the range of stylistic devices provides the viewer with a break-neck barrage of fluttering colour and creative editing, which at times is extremely refreshing. However, without a strong narrative development some of the film’s stylistic devices don’t have as much impact as they possibly could.

One Take Only isn’t the best of the Pang Brother’s work. The elevation of the film’s formal functions hasn’t created a successful balance with the film’s narrative functions, resulting in an un-involving character study.

6 black and white scenes out of 10.
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