I watched The Protector last night with a couple of friends. It’s a 2005 Thai movie starring Tony Jaa and was called “Tom-Yum-Goong” in Thailand. It seems to have a different name in every other country, but I can’t remember all those off the top of my head.
Tony Jaa is best known for his breakout film, Ong-Bak, which was famous for using no CGI or wire – a real novelty with these kind of films these days. We expected to watch the film in Thai with English sub-titles, but the version we watched had only English as a language option, so I’m assuming it was overdubbed.
One thing I liked about The Protector was it knew exactly what it was about and didn’t make excuses for not being anything else. It was a good old-fashioned action movie with lots of broken bones and vile villains. No subtleties here.
Also, The Protector didn’t use a lot of CGI or a wires, though some scenes were enhanced with CGI techniques.
Most of the action was done from a distance so you could see what was happening. The director used nothing more exotic than martial arts, acrobatics, choreography, and probably a little pain. Hopefully, no humans were harmed in the making of this film.
The Protector’s Plot
The plot was crazy by American standards. Tony Jaa plays Kham, a young Muay Thai fighter with the traditional duty of protecting elephants. Apparently, in the old days, a Thai ruler was invincible if he found the perfect elephant. So when Kham’s father is murdered by a number of toughs who wants to take the young man’s elephants (mother and baby) away, you know Kham with go to the lengths of the Earth to find his animal friends and get his revenge. It turns out the lengths of the Earth are Sydney, Australia, where the martial artists loses no time getting into trouble and learning about the scene.
The scene in Sydney is full of corruption, since both the Southeast Asian and Australian cops working in and around Sydney’s Thai town are corrupt – almost as corrupt as the gangster who took Korn.
I have to admit it, every time Tony Jaa cried out, “Bring back Korn,” I couldn’t help but think about the nu metal masters, Korn. That’s very provincial, I know, but I guarantee most Americans would think the same. In the movie, Korn is the young elephant whom Kham has a particular connection with.
The Protector Fight Scenes
The Protector has a ton of fight scenes, including an excellent 10-minute (or more) fight with no cuts that takes place going up a circular stairwell. Tony Jaa is a freak of nature when it comes to quickness and agility. The villains reminded me of a video game, since several had their own unique styles of fighting. The dream sequences were definitely CGI. In fact, Kham seems to dream in video game cut scenes.
The acting was no worse than your average action movie acting. The cinematography was excellent by those same standards. There were plenty of attractive Southeast Asian woman if you like eye-candy. Once again, the villains were suitably nasty – you wanted to see them get their comeuppance.
All in all, The Protector was a nice addition to the action film canon. If you enjoy broken bones and acrobatic performances, you’ll enjoy The Protector. Lovers of action scense should know about Muay Thai (movie) master, Tony Jaa.