Thursday, 9 July 2015


Before we get started, I wish to point out that I am not an expert in autism.
However, I have consulted with someone who is and she has informed me that the particular form of autism shown in this movie is indeed plausible.
That having been said, this is Chocolate.
Seriously, this is really about autism.
Oh, and it's also about martial arts too.

The movie begins with a flashback to a child named Masashi. A voiceover tells us that he loves imperfections because they induce his curiosity to seek answers.
This explains why he's attracted to a young girl with a scar.
This girl.
The camera zooms out to show that both the woman and a grown Masashi are sitting at a table facing each other, with guns pointed at their heads. It's a territory dispute between the Yakuza (Whom Masashi works for) and a local Thai crime syndicate. Complicating matters is the fact that Masashi fell for one of the local syndicate's members, the woman with the scar, named Zin.
Everyone looks rather bored considering all of the guns.
Masashi solves the problem by backing off and offering money, which the locals agree to.
Once they leave we get more flashbacks, showing Masashi and Zin's romance, plus some thug-based business Zin was a part of (Mostly loanshark stuff).
After Masashi's departure Zin and her boss are driving around when her boss spots Masashi and his men chilling. 
So he pulls over and starts shooting them.
Zin stops him from killing them all and he lets her go, but warns that if he sees them together again he'll kill them.
Later, Zin tells Masashi to return to Japan.
Basically it's Romeo and Juliet, if they weren't so selfish at the end.
After the title card we get a short montage of Zin buying a house and having a daughter. It's not entirely happy though as her Doctor explains that the child is having trouble with her brain development.
As the child (Named Zen) grows, the montage continues. More clips of Doctors explaining things, interspersed with much sweeter clips of Zin comforting Zen with chocolate (Hence the title). And it ends with Zen sending a postcard to Masashi about their daughter.
But her previous boss gets wind of the postcards and pays her a visit.
Where he threatens an autistic toddler with a knife.
Being an absolute monster, he decides to remind Zin of his words by cutting off her big toe.
Zin moves somewhere completely different in order to escape.
This new place happens to be next to a Muay Thai dojo, which Zen takes an interest in.
As seen through her eyes.
Zen starts to mimic them, kicking the wooden pillars of her house. At first Zin tries to stop her, but she relents and ties pillows to the pillars instead.
Interestingly, as I mentioned earlier, this is an accurate portrayal of autism. Specifically autistic savantism, where a child can learn how to do something complicated just by watching it once. It's incredibly rare and most recorded incidents are to do with music or art, but it has been known to express itself via dance.
So yes, it is plausible that an autistic savant could focus on the body movements of Muay Thai, practicing it until her muscles are used to it.
After Zin manages to get a job, she and Zen come across a boy being bullied.
Zen befriends him, watching Tony Jaa's movies together.
Shamelessly plugging his movies, because they can.
The boy's name is Moom, pronounced like 'Mom', which gets really confusing for English speakers later on. As they grow up they play together, Moom throwing apples at Zen when she's not looking. She still manages to catch them though.
Making her the closest we'll ever get to a real life Toph.
We cut to an unspecified time later where Moom and Zen have taken this to the streets, as some form of busking. Moom hands out tennis balls to onlookers, who then throw them as hard as possible at Zen, who manages to catch them, from any angle.
After applause and tips, Moom starts handing the balls out for the second performance, only for someone to throw a knife instead of a ball.
Fortunately, Zen's a badass.
Moom calls them out, saying that it was a stupid thing to do, only for six youths to call him a coward and start harassing him.
So Zen beats the stuffing out of them.
And it is glorious.
My favourite moment has to be when two guys try ganging up on her, only for her to ignore them because she's more interested in her doll.
But the way she dodges their attacks leads to them punching and kicking each other.
Maybe if he'd kept his eyes open he wouldn't have missed.
Fight choreography by Tony Jaa, no wonder why it's so cool.
To be honest, I had completely forgotten about this fight scene. But only because it's overshadowed by how much cooler the later ones are.
Later on, as Moom is tending to the cut on Zen's hand, he explains that not everything can be caught. Zen has a panic attack when some flies get near her (Which is not uncommon for the autistic) and he comes up with the idea of using 'Flies' as a codeword. 
As they're practicing Zin catches them and tells him off. Moom defends himself, pointing out that they've earned enough money to pay for Zin's Doctor's bills.
Because Zin has leukemia, making her quite possibly the unluckiest woman in the world.
And yet she still chooses comforting her daughter over everything else.
Moom and Zen continue their street performances, but they get spotted by the local syndicates enforcer woman (The one who held a gun to Zin's head in front of toddler-Zen). Without a word she gives him a big chunk of money.
This cannot be good news.
Later, Zen and Moom are discussing Zin and Moom sums up the entire situation in one sentence.
Moom, master of brevity.
At their home Moom stumbles upon a small book. All that it contains is a list of names and an amount of money, which it says they owe.
Quite a few names and quite a lot of money.
Zin does get to stay at home, but she's too sick to go out. As she apologises to Zen for this, Zen freaks out and accidentally removes Zin's wig.
She takes it well.
Despite Zin and Moom managing to calm her down, when she's alone Zen grabs a pair of scissors and cuts off her own hair.
After Zin has gone to bed Moom takes Zen and goes to visit the first name on the list, a gentleman who owns an ice-cutting company.
After explaining the situation they ask him for the money he owes her.
He is less than polite about it.
The bald guy has some of his men drag Moom away, and they take the opportunity to hit him a few times. Because the kind of people who borrow money from the mob aren't likely to hire very nice people.
That night, Zen is using her chocolate to mimic his abacus.
But in her dreams, this is happening.
Well, this is interesting.
As I mentioned earlier, I not an expert on autism, but from what I do understand this is a very interesting representation of how an autistic sees the world.
Although here it's done to represent Zen's transformation from a passive girl accepting the pain that life is putting her through (By this I mean with her mother's illness, not her own) and instead deciding to do something about it.
Because autistic characters can have character growth too, they're not just stuck with one dimension, which some people seem to view them as.
Also, Zen wakes up and beats the snot out of everyone at the ice-cutting factory.
Whilst making funny Bruce lee noises.
As expected, the fight scene is amazing, although there's not much else to comment on about it.
Other than the fact that this is the third time someone's threatened an autistic kid with a knife.
Zen of course kicks him in the face and takes his money, which she gives to Moom after they get home.
The next day they decide to ask the next name for the money he owes. This time it's at some kind of removals company and at first the owner seems nice and friendly, offering to give them the interest.
But only if Moom can catch it, playing a cruel game of piggy in the middle (Although even the basic version is pretty cruel).
Zen disapproves.
And so of course, Zen beats everyone up. This fight scene is a lot longer and cooler than the previous ones though and it contains some breath-taking moments.
For example, this. You do not want to see the outtake. Trust me.
Zen and Moom take the money home and use it to pay for Zin's medication, which means that she can leave the hospital for a while.
And so we get a very heartwarming moment of Zen playing on the swings with her family.
Cut to the bad guys watching the camera feed of Zen beating people up and collecting money.
And they're not amused.
We also get a brief introduction to the bad guy's kid, the guy in the tracksuit, who also has autism.
Which somehow makes the bad guy seem even more evil, since he should know how difficult it can be.
They decide to keep an eye on Zin.
Cut to Moom and Zen going to another business to ask for money, this time a butchers.
A butchers that doesn't exactly concern itself with the hygiene rules.
And remember, Zen doesn't exactly like flies.
Despite Moom deciding not to try with this particular guy, Zen returns with a mask.
(Plus, we overhear the owner saying something that sounds a lot like a threat to someone over the phone, heavily implying that it's not entirely pig meat he sells).
Oddly enough, the owner recognises her as Zin's daughter and, realising her extreme dislike of flies, tells her that if she wants the money she can come and get it.
There are so many morally horrible people in this movie.
Despite her awesomeness Zen is immobilised by her fear of the flies.
Cue Moom becoming a badass.
Moom tells Zen not to worry about the flies because he'll get them.
So Zen removes her mask and beats up yet more people. Only this time, it's a lot bloodier than before. Especially when one jerk starts throwing meat cleavers at her.
Don't worry, he gets his comeuppance though.
Ummm, ow?
The best bit is the way he just stands and stares at it for a second.
He gets off lucky though. There's another bloke who tries to kick Zen, but instead kicks a row of meat hooks.
So Zen kicks his other foot out from beneath him.
They of course win and get their money, then go home.
But that night, Zin notices bruising on Zen's legs and finds the book.
She is not best pleased.
Moom is busy picking up medicine for Zin, and the nurse says that someone left some chocolate for Zen.
Once he gets home he hands her the chocolate and takes the medicine to Zin, who chews him out about chasing the money. But they get interrupted by Zen's screaming.
I've heard of worse things being found in a tube of chocolate.
After getting Moom to own up to what he's been doing, Zin asks him to deliver a letter via a restaurant, which he does.
However, the bad guys are also there.
And they recognise him.
The mob leader reads the letter and decides to send it to Masashi anyway, since he wants to finish things.
Masashi reads the note and instructs one of his men in Thailand to find her. While he does find Zin's house it's empty. Of course, the transvestites who've been hanging around with the evil woman arrive almost immediately afterwards, so he hides and shoots them.
He's fortunate that they didn't search very well.
He phones Masashi and tells him about what's happened, but gets shot halfway through. The bad guys pick up his phone and tell Masashi to come in person.
Masashi goes to his Yakuza elders and places his pin in front of them, to which they respond unfavourably.
Meanwhile Zin is waiting for Moom, whom she decides to try and phone, but she is less than pleased when the evil woman answers.
So she goes and meets with the bad guys in order to try and persuade them to let Moom go.
Surprisingly, they didn't bother killing him.
Things take a turn for the worse as the evil woman points a gun to Zen's head. This ticks Zin off, as she grabs the bad guy's gun and shoots two of his henchmen, before killing the evil woman.
Unfortunately, she gets shot in the back and is dragged away as more henchmen start fighting Zen.
One of which is Bandana here, who just does not give up.
Bandana gets a few kicks to the head, but two punk girls join the fight, giving Zen a run for her money.
For all of about three minutes.
Which, considering some of the blows they take, is actually very impressive.
Until Zen finishes the two women off, that is.
Well, her spine's broken.
Bandana gets up again, only for Zen to practically break his neck with her next attack. Which was probably unfair at this point, he might very well have just been going to help his friend.
You have to admit though, this is badass.
As the bad guy drags Zin away Zen chases them into a dojo, where pretty much his entire gang show up to fight her.
She knocks them all unconscious before the tracksuit guy from earlier shows up.
He's also some form of autistic savant, only he focused on some kind of hip hop fighting style. His various physical tics confuse Zen for a little while and he kicks her arse, until she starts to mimic them as well.
Then she kicks him in the face in what may be the greatest move put to film, ever.
It goes from this...
To this.
However, he did manage to get some hits in and Zen can barely stand.
Fortunately, this is when Masashi walks in. The bad guy sends loads of goons after him with katanas, so Masashi just draws a gun and starts shooting them.
As you do.
Once he runs out of bullets he disarms a guy and uses his sword to butcher his way through the goons until he reaches the bad guy, who has drawn his own sword.
They're less than pleased to see each other.
Interestingly enough, they don't speak each other's language, so they use English when chatting.
It's still subtitled though.
After fighting each other, the bad guy goes to stab Masashi in the back, but Zin jumps in between them, taking the sword straight through the gut.
Masashi tries to hold onto her as she dies, but the bad guys eventually manage to get a few slashes in. The bad guy drags Zin's corpse away as his goons prepare to finish off Masashi.
Zen has other ideas.
Notably, Zen doesn't even know who Masashi is, she just knows that he tried to protect her mother.
So once again, she beats everybody up, this time using two scabbards to block the swords.
And yes, this is realistic, katana blades aren't actually very good at cutting through things, and katana scabbards are designed to be used like this.
After following the bad guy to the roof everyone's surprised when Moom shows up with a gun. But the bad guy throws Zin at him and steals it, before shooting at zen.
Fortunately, regular guns are no match for Chekhov's guns.
Zen dodges the gunshot and hits the bad guy in the head. He realises just how screwed he is and tries to escape, leaping over alley and catching the train bridge.
Zen jumps after him, but then an old friend arrives.
I told you he never gives up.
More of the goons come running out of the building, before running back inside again in order to climb the stairs. They pour out of the windows and balcony doors, only for Zen to beat them all up again.
Bandana takes several hits but does force Zen to jump back to the bridge again, and he tries to follow her.
He immediately regrets this decision.
We don't see him moving again after he hits the ground, but I like to fondly imagine that he made a full recovery and devoted his life to good deeds, such as helping wayward teens turn their lives around.
After all, he'd have to be questioning his life choices that led him to that moment.
With all of the goons gone, Zen catches the bad guy and kicks him off the building, which kills him outright.
Zen doesn't bother with him after this though, instead going to check on her mother.
It's not a happy reunion.
Masashi clambers up to the roof. His grief at losing his wife is healed slightly by finally meeting his daughter.
Cut to a bit later, as Masashi is back in Japan, looking after Zen (And presumably Moom too).
Would you believe that the actress was 24 when she filmed this?
This movie was simply amazing. The fighting was of course top notch and pretty brutal. The supporting cast were all strong characters who all got their chances to shine.
But by far the best thing about the movie was its' portrayal of autism and how difficult it can sometimes be. But like with all forms of love, it's more than worth the effort.

This movie's not particularly well known, and the actress has only been in a few more films, but it's definitely worth watching.

Next week, we get Vin Diesel playing an alien.
Not Groot though, a different alien.

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