Who is Running? (1997)

Rating:

Who Is Running? (Tha Fa Likhit)

Thailand. 1997.

Crew

Director/Screenplay – Oxide Pang, Producers – Exsun Binshaun & Jareuk Kanjareuk, Photography – Sintop Soporn, Music – Jinglebell, Digital Visual Effects – Centro. Production Company – Kantana Group

Cast

Sonya Kunakorn (Jeab), Nattarika Thumpridanun (Waan), Suchao Pongwilai, Wichitra Sukmak, Asa Hasin

Plot

When his girlfriend Waan is hit by a car while crossing the street, the atheist Jeab goes to the Buddhist temple and prays for her life. He is told by a monk that Waan is the reincarnation of a rapist and multiple murderer and that it is destiny that she be taken. Jeab begs for some alternative and is granted the opportunity to make up for her karmic crimes by saving the lives of five people. Given a newspaper that prints tomorrow’s headlines, he attempts to prevent five tragedies – to stop a police officer shooting himself after losing money he has embezzled at the racetrack; to save a student who is going to jump from a roof unable to handle the pressure of academic expectations from his family; to save a girl who tries to jump in front of a train after being spurned by her boyfriend; to save a police sergeant who is shot during an gold store armed robbery; and a child who is killed by a hit-and-run driver – before they happen.

This Thai film has a surprising amount in common with the moderately engaging US tv series Early Edition (1996-2000), which similarly featured a protagonist who each week mysteriously received a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper and then spent the rest of the episode trying to prevent a disaster from happening. Both works were in turn influenced by the classic oldie It Happened Tomorrow (1944). The idea in Who is Running? is to construe the premise as a congenial Buddhist morality tale.

Who is Running? was a debut feature from Oxide Pang. Oxide Pang had previously been a film colourist at Kantana, Bangkok’s premiere production facility house. Pang so impressed his employers they ended up financing Who is Running?. And one can see why – Oxide showed considerable promise as a director, something that was born out when Oxide and his brother Danny moved to Hong Kong and made a number of impressive genre films together. Oxide tries to incorporate far too many Western stylistic flourishes – hyped slow-motion action, deliberately blurred roving camera-work, subliminal flash editing – nevertheless directs with considerable confidence for a newcomer. He also displays a highly amusing sense of humour. The snowballing situation and star Sonya Kunakom’s little pep talks and attempts to sort situations out are extremely funny, even when they come blunted by some terrible subtitling.

Oxide Pang went onto become a celebrated Thai director and usually co-directs with his twin brother Danny. They have made a number of horror films including The Eye (2002) and sequels The Eye 2 (2004) and The Eye 10 (2005); the fantasy film Re-Cycle (2006); one English-language venture with the Hollywood horror The Messengers (2007); the Hong Kong Wu Xia film Storm Warriors (2009); and the ghost story The Child’s Eye (2010); as well the screenplay for Omen (2003). On his own, Oxide Pang has also directed an episode of the ghost story anthology Bangkok Haunted (2001); Ab-Normal Beauty (2004) about a woman who becomes sexually aroused by death; the ghost story Diary (2006), the quasi-supernatural detective story The Detective (2007) and the horror film Sleepwalker (2011); as well as wrote/produced The Remaker (2005). Danny Pang has solo directed Forest of Death (2007), In Love with the Dead (2007), Fairy Tale Killer (2012) and The Strange House (2015), and solo produced Scare 2 Die (2008).

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