'The King Maker'
(Gary Stretch, John Rhys-Davies, et al / DVD / R / (2005) 2007 / Columbia Pictures)
Overview: In 1547 Fernando De Gama, a young "Soldier of Fortune" from Portugal, set sail for the Orient in a bid to find the man that murdered his father and, with luck, like many of his fellow countrymen,to make his fortune. A vicious storm in the Indian ocean almost ended his plans when the ship he was on sank. The sole survivor, he was washed up on a tropical beach only to be captured by Arab slavers and taken to Ayutthaya in the kingdom of Siam where he was offered for sale as a slave. He is rescued from slavery when a beautiful young woman Maria, also from Portugal, living in Ayutthaya with her father, buys him from the Arabs and restores his freedom. Not suprisingly he falls for Maria and Maria him, much to the chagrin of Maria's Father. As an experienced soldier his services are soon in demand when the King of Siam declares war on a Northern renegade pretender and all of the Portuguese colony are press-ganged into the service of the King.
DVD Verdict: With heavy bloodletting and even heavier schmaltz, "The King Maker" is an awkwardly executed costumer about a Portuguese mercenary in Siam, 1547. Only the third Thai film ever shot in English, and the first since 1941's "Kingdom of the White Elephant," this 40 million baht ($10 million) production doesn't scrimp on large-scale battle scenes but is severely hampered by Thai thesps struggling with the imposed lingo. Pic failed to spark locally late last year, and looks like an ancillary item at best elsewhere.
Based on events prior to the ascension of Thailand's current dynasty, pic finds hunky Fernando De Gama (British pug-turned-thesp Gary Stretch) looking for action in Ayutthaya, the Siamese capital. When not making eyes at beautiful Miriam Del Toro (1996 Miss World Cindy Burbridge, debuting), Fernando is embroiled in the schemes of palace hottie, Queen Sudachan (newcomer Yossawadee Hassadeevichit). With dialogue like a romance novel, pic fails to convince as a history lesson or romantic swashbuckler. Second-billed John Rhys-Davies has little to do as Miriam's devious dad. Transfer from HD is technically impressive and location shooting in the old capital can't help but catch the eye. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with no Special Features.