Attention cult film fans: you have a new Holy Grail. The film is called Tears Of The Black Tiger and you must seek it out wherever it may be. Director/writer Wisit Sasanatieng’s first and thus far only film, Tears Of The Black Tiger, is a dizzying, delirious experience in pure camp cinema, one that would undoubtedly be a major international smash had it come from just about any film-producing country other than Thailand. Thailand has been the overlooked distant relative in the Asian film world for years, and though the rise of the incredibly talented Pang brothers has brought the country some much deserved attention, it may have come too late for films like Tears Of The Black Tiger.
So what is this thing and why get so excited? Part parody and part serious homage, Tears Of The Black Tiger is a film completely out of time and place, something completely and totally unexpected from Asian cinema: a 40’s era cowboy melodrama shot in glorious Technicolor, or, in this case, a no-name Technicolor substitute. Tears Of The Black Tiger tells the story of Dum, a young peasant boy who falls in love with Rumpoey, the daughter of the local governor.
The two want to be married but can’t due to social circumstances. Dum vows to make himself worthy of Rumpoey and make her his own and heads off to find his fortune. He falls in with a group of gangsters and eventually becomes the right-hand man in the gang, known to all as the Black Tiger, feared fastest gun in the land. Back in Bangkok, Rumpoey eventually abandons hope of ever hearing from Dum again and allows herself to be pressured into an engagement with a local police captain determined to bring down Dum’s gang. Will the lovers ever be reunited?