Bullet Points: The Protector
After the success of Ong Bak anything that Tony Jaa did should have looked like a step backwards. The Protector, however, is a pretty sweet action film with loads of fight scenes that will make any action fan say, “that Tony Jaa is one tough little bastard!” Your words, not mine. So park your elephant-sized ass on the couch next to your actual elephant (if you have one) and watch this movie about the abduction of an elephant.
The Gist: Kham (Tony Jaa) is a young Muay Thai fighter who must travel to Australia to retrieve two elephants that were stolen from his family. With the help of a Thai-born Australian detective (Petchtai Wongkamlao), Kham must kick, punch, and snap as many bones as necessary to find his families elephants. Unfortunately for Kham, he must go up against a Thai mafia family led by Transsexual Madame Rose and fight her impressive array of bodyguards.
I’m really surprised that elephant calisthenics hasn’t caught on the way I thought it would.
The Cast: Tony Jaa as Kham isn’t too bad of an actor for the material presented to him. His action scenes are out of this world and it’s made even more impressive by knowing that there are no wire or CGI and he doesn’t use a double for any scenes. The guy is truly an artist when it comes to action. He does a pretty decent job of emoting when necessary. You can tell that he can relate to the loss suffered by Kham in the movie and he does an adequate job as an actor. I really like Petchtai Wongkamlao as Mark; I thought that he was funny and brought elements to the movie that Tony Jaa’s character lacked. I would like to point out that Kham wasn’t too made after they killed the priest who was hiding them and burned down the temple, but when they killed his elephant he totally freaked out and went crazy on them. Glad he had his priorities straight.
Yes those are giant bones tied to his arms.
The Villain: In the version that I watched, Madame Rose was always played as a transsexual, it was the one reason brought up why her family wouldn’t let her run the organization. They thought it would bring shame to the family. It made sense that he/she would be pissed off and take over by killing everyone else. I guess in the US version he/she is just a she, although the actor portraying Madame Rose is clearly a he/she in real life. Rose had a very impressive array of bodyguards. She must have searched martial arts dojo’s far and wide. I thought that Johnny was going to be the main tough guy since he kicked Kham’s ass the first time but twenty minutes later Kham got mad and totally beat the crap out of him. Enter, Nathan Jones. This man is a real monster. He has made a career out of playing essentially the same character and his size and ability is always impressive. Lateef Crowder is the Capoeira fighter and he is always fun to watch.
You haven’t made it in the action world until you’ve killed former WWE superstar Nathan Jones in your movie.
The Action: The Protector was a movie that I was excited for because of the continuous one-shot fight sequence. By now, I had already seen that particular scene but not having seen the entire movie it was good to finally get the context of some of the things that happened in it. It’s a very impressive fight scene when you think about how hard it must have been to make; supposedly it was finally filmed on the fifth take over the course of a month. That is a lot of planning and preparation for a 4 minute fight scen, kudos to the team for putting it together. My major problem, however, was that was probably my third favorite fight scene in the whole movie. The scene in the burning temple against Lateef Crowder (capoeira guy), John Foo (wushu man), and Nathan Jones (giant bald guy) was pretty impressive. The scene makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Having just left the temple, the two main characters go back there for no reason except to give the audience a badass fight. Oh well, sometimes you have to stop thinking and let the action go. The other insane fight scene being the one where Tony Jaa breaks about 200 arms and legs. That scene has some of the most ridiculous sound effects I have ever heard. I was happy that we got to see Nathan Jones again but the other fighters must have had the day off as we don’t get to see Crowder or Foo again. It’s hard for the one-shot to out shine these two scenes and it really had a detrimental effect on the movie overall. It’s a shame for a movie that has so much kick-ass action in it, to be brought down by the story so much. As cool as the fighting was, the plot was the exact opposite in way of coolness. I watched the uncut international version and I can tell you that it was probably about 20 minutes too long. That is not a good thing for the audience to be waiting for an action movie to end.
With the amount of bones being broken here it sounds like pouring milk over a bowl of Rice Krispies.
Take It Home:
- Hurry up already: The film took two years to make and used over 600 rolls of film.
- #Tardy: Riding to school on an elephant is way more badass than the brown station wagon that I rode in as a kid.
- Fight fatigue: Rarely do I say this but between the one-shot fight, the temple fight, the bone-breaking fight, the boat chase, the roller-skating fight, and then the finale with Nathan Jones; this baby had way too many fight scenes. Yes, if you haven’t seen this, Tony Jaa fights a bunch of guys on roller skates and skate boards.
- The Chase: I thought the boat chase was pretty sweet until I saw Mark getting chased riding a Segway…that rarely happens in action movies.
- Is that an elephant femur tied to your wrist or…: It was just a bone.
Overall The Protector (Tom yum goong, Warrior King) is a pretty sweet action movie and should be watched for the countless fight scenes in it. The story is one of those ones that probably won’t appeal to non-Thai audiences as much. It isn’t the typical revenge story that we are used to seeing. The uncut international version is definitely too long but I still enjoyed it. My last word is to the Thai mafia…maybe it’s time to invest in some guns instead of training all of your goons in martial arts.