Anna & The King (1999)

Andy Tennant directs Jodie Foster, Chow Yun-Fat and Bai Ling in this romantic retelling of British widow Anna Leonowens’ 19th century memoir of her time as the tutor to the King of Siam’s children.

A sumptuous family friendly look at imperialism that rubs modern eyes the wrong way. Hong Kong actors in the lead roles of characters from the same continent but with different nationalities!!! Anyone able to name a single movie star with a Siamese passport? Thought not. I’m surprised as nobody really has issue with Californian Jodie Foster playing a Brit? I don’t think anyone made this with a racist colonial agenda in mind. It clearly has been developed as a Hollywood vehicle for the hopelessly charismatic Chow Yun-Fat. He obviously isn’t Thai but he really is one of the few romantic leads from Asia to headline Hollywood mainstream productions with any consistency. And he achieved that on talent alone. Ethnicity aside, he’s a great fit for the character. The intrigue, love, action and comedy unspools at a magisterial pace with Jodie and Chow’s chemistry being the main draw. I don’t want to break any hearts, shatter any illusions, but Jodie isn’t a heterosexual and she plays her part with exactly the same standard of elan and aplomb as we always expect from her. Why should The Killer be limited when he’s equally as fine here? He’s a cocksure, cigar smoking treat in every scene. This predates Disney’s trend for making big, colourful live action epics out of their animated fairy tales by 15 years yet the tone, visuals and pleasures are very similar.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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