About a month ago I talked to you about Raging Phoenix, which has the same female lead as this movie. This movie is pretty different and about a hundred times better! Chocolate is about Zen, an autistic girl that has the ability to learn martial arts just from watching movies, playing video games, or watching other people. Her mother is very sick, and in order to get money for her hospital bills, Zen and Moom, her best friend/cousin (I’m not sure if he’s actually her cousin, but he does call Zen’s mom “auntie”) decide to get it from people that owe money to her mother’s old gang. Zin (the mother) has long since fallen out from the gang, so this doesn’t sit well with its leaders. Either way, it puts Zen in the perfect sort of situation to really kick some butt!
This movie is so full of lovely and perfect things, but let’s start with the obvious: the fighting. The fighting in this movie is very Jackie Chan-esque (this could also be because I watched Rumble in the Bronx on the same day). It’s got the same sort of flare for comedic moments, and the same style that finds the protagonist using ordinary objects to beat up her attackers. (Technically she’s the attacker and they’re just unfortunate, but I’m not going to split hairs.) Just like with Raging Phoenix, I found the fight sequences much more engaging than in most American made movies.
Jeeja Yanin is a great actress. She did an incredible job portraying an autistic child in the movie, and some of her scenes were really heart-wrenching and beautiful. On top of that, the other characters were likeable (or hateable, respectfully), and I really liked Moom. There’s a scene where she first starts fighting and the way she imitates the movies she’s seen is both hysterical and incredibly adorable.
The writing for this movie is much better, and the storyline is much more concrete. There wasn’t any pacing problems, and it was much less cheesy. And although the ending is still a little sad, it is much more hopeful and realistic than Raging Phoenix’s.
I have very little to say on the negative side. Some of the fight sequences dragged a little bit and you really start to wonder how long these people can last after being beat up so many times. On the flip side, though, I think it’s much more realistic than them getting punched once and then never getting up again.
I’m sitting here trying to balance this out a little more, but I honestly can’t. I really, really enjoyed this movie. Even though this came out before Raging Phoenix, I suggest watching Chocolate after you see the other one. That way you don’t get your hopes up for Phoenix, and you’ll appreciate this one more.
Here’s the trailer if you’re interested. It is definitely worth your time!
Also, I’m posting this now realizing that it is Autism Awareness Month. How perfect is that? I’d be interested to know what they did “right” and what they did “wrong” in this film. I know Jeeja did a lot of research for her role, so I hope that it’s believable to someone who has a little more experience with autistic children than I do. Let me know what you guys think of it once you’ve seen it!