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EXPECT 'TEARS' OF CONFUSION.

Byline: Glenn Whipp

Film Critic

The director calls it "exuberant vulgarity." Others have labeled his movie a "pad thai Western." But however you want to label Wisit Sasantieng's "Tears of the Black Tiger," this mixture of Douglas Sirk, Sergio Leone and Bollywood is a florid freak-out, a movie mash-up the likes of which have never before been seen.

Is that a good thing? The Thai import does have its doubters. Harvey Weinstein, back in the glory days of Miramax, bought "Tears" after it won raves at the Cannes Film Festival 7/8 the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. It has been on the shelf ever since, turning into a B-movie urban legend, and taking its place near the sewer alligators underneath New York City bootleg DVD emporiums.

Now that "Tears" has finally washed up on these shores, it's safe to say that the movie will be best appreciated by film geeks and those who find overwrought style to be giddy fun. Visually, the movie is a knock-out, its dazzling color schemes a combination of design and lab work that makes rivers run red, turns fields a blinding green and transforms the heroine's lips into the color of fuchsias in bloom.

The movie tells the story of Dum (Chartchai Ngamsan), who, as a boy, falls in love with the beautiful, pink-lipped heiress Rumpoey (Stella Malucchi) only to lose her again and again in a doomed love affair that makes "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" look like "Annie Hall" by comparison.

Dum responds to the tragic circumstances by transforming himself into the pencil-mustached, masked bandit Black Tiger, a gunslinger who never misses and is, in fact, capable of vanquishing his foes by ricocheting a bullet off about a dozen different surfaces. Dum's goal is to find Rumpoey. Standing in his way is his outlaw boss, the sinister Fai (Sombati Medhanee).

Will Dum get his girl? Or will Fai get him first? Does any of it really matter? Not really. "Tears of the Black Tiger" is a glorious kitsch fest designed for those who respond to ridiculous violence, splashy colors and the scene in "Red River" where Montgomery Clift and John Ireland admire each other's guns. The Duke would not have been amused, but who knows ... you just might love it.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp@dailynews.com

TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER - Three stars

(Not rated: violence)

Starring: Chartchai Ngamsan, Stella Malucchi.

Director: Wisit Sasanatieng.

Running time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Playing: Landmark's Nuart Theater in West Los Angeles.

In a nutshell: Thai import is a florid freak-out for those who like their Westerns by way of Bollywood. In Thai with English subtitles.

CAPTION(S):

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Photo:

Cultures -- and colors -- collide in Thailand's "Tears of the Black Tiger," a mix of Eastern and Western elements.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 2, 2007
Words:462
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