Tears of the Black Tiger is one 'œwhacked-out genetic mutation' of a movie, said David Edelstein in New York. Director Wisit Sasanatieng works around a standard Romeo-and-Juliet story line, splicing together American spaghetti Westerns and Thai martial-arts cinema to create a splashy hybrid worthy of cult status. In a time and place unknown, a beautiful, well-bred woman named Rumpoey falls in love with a peasant boy, who transforms himself into a criminal called the Black Tiger. When Rumpoey is forced into marriage by a police captain, he swears that he will eliminate the Black Tiger, and bloody fights ensue. Love scenes and battles are rendered in blazing color, with silly costumes (one villain's moustache is obviously a strip of black tape) and ridiculous, painted backdrops. That's all very entertaining for film critics like us, who go to a movie just to catalogue its references, said Jan Stuart in Newsday. But does anyone else care? In order to draw a real audience, a movie must be more than the sum of its visuals. This film is much more, said Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com. Though comically bold, Tears of the Black Tiger is no winking novelty created for a small, cult audience. Sasanatieng's passion for this project comes through in every frame, and even the most clichÃ©d moments feel serious. In Tears, 'œfeeling trumps moviemaking cleverness every time.'
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