Tony Jaa burst onto the martial arts scene a couple of years ago with the martial arts film "Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior." In his follow-up, "The Protector," he takes the chopsoky up to a whole new level. While watching "The Protector," the one thought that stuck in my mind was this Jaa is absolutely amazing, if only he could get a movie that matched his talent.
Originally filmed and released in Japan and Germany as Tom yum goong (The Protector). The film has gone through several changes and sets of editors as 15 minutes has been trimmed out for us short attention span Americans. This could prove to have been a great move because at 84 minutes, parts of this film still felt long, namely the first 15 minutes of exposition. As "The Protector," tries really hard to be a film and have a story.
Legend has it that those who are charged with the duty of protecting and raising elephants are imbued with some sort of mystical powers. These protectors of elephants are special warriors and if they fail in their duties, Kingdoms will fall. Kham (Jaa) is one of these chosen few. He's tasked with raising and taking care of two elephants who eventually become like members of his family. One day poachers from Australia come and kidnap his elephants. And before you can say "Kill Bill," Kham is in a warehouse in Sydney kicking butt and taking numbers.
The plot becomes even more ridiculous and convoluted when they throw in crooked cops, Chinese mafia, political assassinations, and more. It's a good thing you don't go see a Kung Fu film for a decent plot; otherwise you would be really disappointed. Action fans will marvel at the incredible over the top stunts and fight choreography. What's even more mind-blowing is the fact that Jaa is actually doing these seemingly impossible feats of acrobatic wonder.
I'm not talking about the standard martial arts of watching someone fight through 80 or 100 people; we've all seen that before. Although the way Jaa does it is especially devastating. No, I'm talking about it's a marvel to watch Jaa run up and flip off of walls, or jump 6 feet in the air with his knees bent to take out someone, or when he does a running split, slide thing under or over a car. There's one moment in the film where he has to fight his way up five or six flights of stairs, instead of walking up the steps, he'll literally run up the wall. Pretty eye popping stuff.
Now the set-up to the very fight scenes and how they dress up the bad guys leaves you scratching your head; in the aforementioned, clich