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"Anna and the King" is possibly one of the best films you could choose to see this year. Its brilliant combination of action, romance and drama will leave most audience members checking their watches at the end of the film, because they simply won't believe that it was a full 2 1/2 hours. It's that good.

The premise, based on the diary of an English schoolteacher named Anna Leonowen, is similar to that of its predecessors, with only minor plot changes. Anna, played by Jodie Foster, is sent to Siam to teach the king's children, but ends up changing the life of the Siamese people forever.

The performances by Jodie Foster and action star Chow Yun-Fat are remarkable. The occasionally prissie Anna, the sometimes harsh ruler of Siam (Yun-Fat) and the unforgettable innocence of Tuptim (played by Bai Ling) are brought to life with pure emotion. Viewers will be engulfed immediately in the film's dramatic plot of love and war.

Congratulations are in order especially to Yun-Fat, who has dealt mostly with action titles in the past. He fits the role of the king of Siam perfectly, displaying an excellent amount of talent and experience. A near equal performance was offered by Jodie Foster, as she strayed from the prim and proper attitude of her previous roles, and delivered compassion as well as strength. Also, the chemistry between the two is incredible and makes the romantic points in the movie both believable and uplifting, as their two worlds collide, but eventually are fused together.

The film, shot entirely on location in Malaysia, features some of the most beautiful scenery ever seen in a movie. The whole exotic feel to the film is done so well that movie-goers will find the surroundings familiar and magnificent.

All of these features combined with a great plot and amazing performances are what make the film shine. Just in time for the holidays, "Anna and the King" offers an extraordinary experience that will not be forgotten.

John Roberts is a freshman at Hamburg High School.