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Film / Chocolate

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A 2008 Thai film about an autistic girl who goes after her ailing mother's debtors to pay for her chemotherapy.

A Thai woman falls in love with a Japanese gangster, but they part ways after her employers disapprove... with violence. A few months after the split, she gives birth to Zen, a girl with autism. Said autism allows Zen to master martial arts moves by watching them. She also enjoys chocolate, thus the title.

When Zen's in her teenage years, her mother gets cancer and needs money for treatment. Zen's friend (and occasional caretaker) Moom finds a black book listing everyone who owed her mother money from her days as an enforcer. They head out to reclaim it... with violence.

Unfortunately, those people are with the same criminals that split up Zen's parents, and they're still hungry for revenge...

(For the 2000 film about a chocolaterie in a French village, see Chocolat.)

This movie provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Zen. Zin was a Dark Action Girl in the backstory, or possibly a Dragon Lady.
  • Agony of the Feet: During Zen's acrimonious departure at the start of the film, her boss shoots his own big toe off to show Zin just what she's done to him. He later cuts one of Zin's toes off when he finds out she's still contacting her yakuza boyfriend.

  • Anti-Hero: Zen and Moom have a good cause... but they're basically collecting money owed to the mob for their own personal use.
  • Artistic License Biology:
    • Autism tends to impair motor skills: even although many autistic people are good in either fine or gross motor skills, they are often deficient in the other. Martial arts usually require both, so it would be unrealistic (though admittedly not impossible) to expect an autistic girl to be a fighting savant.
    • Same with Tourette's. Thomas's chronic spasms would make it very hard for him to learn and/or train martial arts, not to mention an incredibly complex one as it is capoeira. It gets Hand Waved in the film because it's never explicitly stated that his disorder is Tourette's (he's even credited as "Epileptic Boxer", which is another level of artistic license altogether, as epilepsy is a completely different thing).
  • Awesome by Analysis: Zen's specialty, as she can learn martial arts only by watching and shadowboxing what she watches. It doesn't end there, as she also applies it while fighting in order to land precise strikes and remove her body out of danger with Combat Parkour every time it is needed. This is why Thomas manages to confuse her for a round: his spasms make it hard for her to analyze his movements, and it takes time for her to readjust.
  • Badass Adorable: Zen, a small Thai autistic girl whose Disability Superpower is to absorb martial arts from movies and TV shows. The entire movie is her beating up hundreds of people larger than her with Muay Thai. The actress supposedly spent 2 years learning enough of the art to make it look realistic.
  • Badass Family: Dad's a (very good) gangster. Mom... had moves before the cancer. Their kid is unstoppable.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A few examples. The most hilarious (and overt) being Moom saving the day by... scaring away the flies using an electric flyswatter, thus allowing Zen to mop the floor with the people she's extorting money from.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Zen's mother is killed by the main villain. However, by this point, Zen has defeated everyone who stood against them... so her father doesn't have to leave again, and she is reunited with him.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In:
    • Played straight many times in the butcher shop fight, but notably subverted at one point. Zen deflects a thrown knife at a mook who was already victim to this trope. You see his face and reaction when he's hit... then the camera pans downward and it turns out it merely slapped him with the side of the blade.
    • Earlier in the same fight, the blade didn't land pointy end in on a chain-link barricade, but did when it bounced off and hit the mook who threw it...
  • Chekhov's Gun: "Flies!" Set up when Moom tries to teach Zen to use it as a cue for dodging incoming projectiles (and is interrupted when he tries to test it with a baseball); fired when he yells it in time for her to dodge a bullet.
  • Combat Parkour: Zen uses her small size to her advantage by taking the fight into narrow spaces where her opponents have trouble moving. She and her opponents also employ combat parkour in places when evading kicks and bouncing around the scenes.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Played straight, then subverted. Mooks swarm into the room with katanas drawn, and it looks like it's going to be an epic sword fight between them and Zen's father, until he pulls a gun and empties into their ranks. For the subversion, he grabs a blade of his own and fights the rest traditionally.
  • Confusion Fu: Zen's most dangerous enemy is Thomas, a boy with Tourette's. Not only he is skilled at a deliberately confusing martial art, his tics make it almost impossible for her to read his moves anyway.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Zen goes through mooks like it's nothing, but has difficulty in her singles duel with Thomas and is eventually taken out in a double KO. Justified because he is a Kung Fu-Proof Mook for her, while the rest are regular thugs, and she was probably tired of fighting the latter by this point.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Zen vs. Thomas is this, as it effectively pits two fighting savants with very divergent styles against each other.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Autism, as well as Tourette's.
  • Cute Bruiser: Zen of course.
  • Dance Battler: It is not easy to call "dance" to Thomas's spastic fighting style, but he actually fights with an adapted form of Capoeira, mixed with some b-boying.
  • Disability Superpower: Zen is autistic... which gives her almost superhuman senses. Same for Thomas, who has some sort of Tourette that makes him physically unpredictable.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: The film features an animated dream sequence which moves Zen to act.
  • Double Knockout: Zen and Thomas feature one at the final moments of the fight, as they both land simultaneously a martelo do chao and drop groggy to the ground. A variation happens immediately after, when Zen lands a mariposa kick while Thomas was trying to sweep her legs: although his attack misses, the battle wear finally catches up with Zen and she collapses next to him upon landing.
  • The Dragon: Thomas.
  • Evil Counterpart: Thomas counts as one to Zen.
  • Extremity Extremist: The capoerista Thomas only attacks with his legs, aside from some rare hand strike here and there.
  • Force and Finesse: Zen's specialty is traditional muay thai, favoring committed lunges with a lot of forward knees, kicks, and elbows (the Force). On the other hand, Thomas flows around with modified capoeira, combining evasive acrobatics with elegant long-range kicks (the Finesse).
  • Funny Bruce Lee Noises: Zen makes these when she's enjoying herself. Stands to reason since she watched a lot of Bruce Lee although we only see her watch his instruction videos, where he may have skipped the noises.
  • Girls Love Chocolate: Played straight with Zen.
  • Glass Cannon: Thomas is one of those combined with a Fragile Speedster. He can deliver heavily torqued kicks from unpredictable angles and is very difficult to hit even by a savant like Zen, but he cannot take nearly as much damage as she can. It only takes a couple of well-placed knockouts to take him out of the battle, while Zen by then had tanked through much more damage than that against him (and not even counting her fights with the other mooks).
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Zen uses them frequently.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Played twice at high-speed in the final duel. The drama increases at the end because Thomas is so damn adaptable that he keeps outgunning Zen even after she decodes his body language, which previously seemed to be the key to beat him; it is only when Zen goes further and starts directly copying his style that she finally starts landing finishing blows.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: In the vein of Jackie Chan, as they're actually footage of on-set injuries.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Averted. Thomas barely talks in the film, but he never swears as classically expected from a character with Tourette's.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Zen primarily learns martial arts watching Bruce Lee and Tony Jaa movies. Apparently including training videos, like in the clip that shows her absorbing every movement. Additionally, there is a muay thai class training near her house that she seems to audit without their knowledge.
  • Important Haircut: Zen cuts off her beautiful long hair after she finds out her mother is going bald from chemotherapy. She had pulled off her mother's wig and, in a series of flashbacks to times she'd played with her mother's hair, though she'd torn off her mom's real hair. She was apparently acting out because of the trauma.
  • Informed Attribute: Thomas is credited as the "Epileptic Boxer", which is quite misguided considering he is neither a boxer nor epileptic.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: The reason Zen's parents aren't together. If they so much as communicate in a letter, it angers the Big Bad.
  • Kick the Dog: Number Eight on Zen, in her face, as she tries to revive her mortally-wounded mother.
  • Kung-Fu Kid: Both Zen and Thomas, in their respective fields of expertise.
  • Kung Fu-Proof Mook: A literal example in Thomas, who proves to be a match for Zen precisely because he is disabled too and just as gifted for martial arts as she is. Even after she finds the way to land some hard strikes on him, he manages to pull a draw and take her out of action (although to be fair, she was already worn due to an earlier fight against bunch of mooks).
  • Lightning Bruiser: Zen might not be as mobile, but she is tougher and hits just as hard, and has also some incredible Combat Parkour ability.
  • Loan Shark: Zen and Moom, are, effectively, acting as enforcers for the mob's loans and keeping the money.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Less because it's a marriage between a Japanese man and a Thai woman, more because it's between a yakuza and a Thai enforcer.
  • Mood Whiplash: The penultimate scene consists of Zen's mother dying before her eyes and Zen trying to wake her up with her father watching. The last scene is Zen calmly walking with her father in broad daylight, holding a paper windmill.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Zen and Moom collecting debts is essentially stealing from the mob, which puts them back on Number Eight's radar.
  • Non-Action Guy: Moom qualifies, while he occasionally contributes in fight scenes, for the most part, he simply keeps out of Zen's way.
  • Non-Indicative Title: Zen does enjoy chocolate, and it shows up in several scenes, however, it's never a plot point and a very random choice for a title.
  • Ominous Hair Loss: The severity of the cancer is made clear to her when Zen learns her mother is now wearing a wig and her hair has been falling out as a result of the chemotherapy,
  • One-Word Title: It's named Chocolate because the main character likes the stuff.
  • Pac Man Fever: Zen's playing a PS2 with a Super Famicom controller at one point.
  • Power Copying: Zen shows it during her battle against Thomas, albeit with a lot of effort due to her opponent's body language being difficult to read. She adopts a capoeira approach to match his style, immediately landing a Double Knockout, and manages to finish him with a mariposa. Possibly subverted, thought, because that's strangely a capoeira move Thomas had not used previously, which implies Zen had some prior knowledge of the art and only recalled it for her change of style.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Thai mob seems to employ a QMS of transvestites.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Zen's Waif-Fu moves look like they shouldn't pack that much weight... until you see the Hilarious Outtakes and you see that when her blows hit the stuntmen, they do some serious damage.
  • Sexy Flaw: This is explicitly one of the reasons that a yakuza fell in love with a Thai mob enforcer: the yakuza has a fascination with "imperfections" and in this case he found the enforcer's scar on her face to be alluring.
  • Sweet Tooth: Zen, it's why the movie is named what it's named.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Zen loves chocolate. At one point the gangsters use it against her.
  • Trivial Title: The movie is about an autistic girl beating people up to pay for her mother's chemotherapy. She also happens to like chocolate, though that doesn't affect the plot in the slightest aside from drama.
  • Waif-Fu: Done well for the most part. Zen has to build up momentum be able to knock back her opponents more than a few inches. See Reality Is Unrealistic.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Moom in the very final scene, especially since he was pretty badly wounded. Also, Thomas's fate is unrevealed.
  • Wind Turbine Power: The end sees Zen and her father walking along the ocean with a row of wind turbines at their side as she holds her own little pinwheel.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Zen hates flies.
  • Yakuza: Zen's dad Masashi.