The politics of ‘Red Eagle’
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The politics of ‘Red Eagle’

By Pokpong Lawansiri 


/>The long awaited Thai superhero film,
Red Eagle (known in Thai as Insee Dang) was released last Thursday (English-sub teaser
 here; trailer here). The film is a remake of the Red Eagle series of the 1950s-1970s.

Wisit Sasanatieng, the director, is known for ‘Tears of the Black Tiger’, a colorful Thai tragic-romance Western film. Wisit is regarded as one of a “New Wave” of Thai directors that include Nonsee Nimitbutr, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

The film took close to two years to make, due to an unexpected injury of Ananda EveringhamAnanda, a Laotian-Australian actor, plays Rom Rittikrai, a highly trained special force soldier who was betrayed by the government and later became the Red Eagle to avenge the corrupted government. 

I personally feel that Wisit is trying to put forward his political view in the film although in the interview with ABC, the producer said that there was no intention of making a political statement.

For instance, the original Red Eagle series played by the late Mitr Chaibancha had resemblances with Hollywood superheroes like that of Superman or Batman in which the hero fights criminals alongside the police and the government. 

However, Wisit’s version of Red Eagle is different as his protagonist is fighting against the “corrupted” prime minister, politicians, and powerful mafia network known as the Matulee.  

While it is not quite clear where Wisit stands in the political conflicts in Thailand, there are some scenes that are quite interesting to interpret such as the scene of local NGO protesting against government’s nuclear plant project being shot with the military sniper team. The savvy PM was an idealist who changed when he won the election and became powerful.   

On another account, Wisit Sasanatieng’s interview (in Thai) on “We are Thais”, the music video that he made, has been widely circulated among Facebook users. In the interview, Wisit said that:            

“Thais are born as Thais…Being Thai is not a property of a single person. It belongs to everyone. No one can abuse the right [of being Thai] and say that you are Thai and the other person is not and tell them off to leave your house.”  

While, we are not sure what Wisit is referring to, many people interpret it as this could be a reference to the “un-Thai” rhetoric that the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance for Democracy often used against those who criticized their activities and strategies.  

If you have seen the film, please share your views!   

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