Sunday, November 15, 2009

Perfect Thai

There's two things I want to say about The Protector a.k.a Tom Yum Goong: Prachya Pinkaew and Tony Jaa.

Tony Jaa stars as a young Thai, raised to protect a herd of royal elephants. Bad guys steal a bull and his calf and Jaa chases them to Sidney Australia. When he catches up, oh boy.

Pinkaew directs. He could get away with just showing us the fights, but he actually shows a lot of style. It doesn't always hold together, but you can see some nicely framed compositions - a wide room with the villains at one end, then Jaa flying into the frame from the other end and crushing the bad guys. A major series of fights takes place in a burning temple with a layer of water on the floor - very cinematic.

And what great fights. Jaa first fights a capoeira master, almost playful, with flips and kicks. Then a wuxia swordsman in classical Chinese style, and finally a giant strongman. All while the temple is burning down around them as their kicks send up slow-mo splashes of water.

But the best fight is an amazing 5-minute long single take fight up 6 or seven stories. The stamina required for just the cameramen is astounding.

Andthe movie's all capped off by Jaa taking on and incapacitating (breaking bones) of 40-50 assailants.

The villains are very evil - I won't give that part away. The good guys include a Sydney policeman of Thai origin, who's kind of fun. There's even a girl, but no love interest. Jaa is purely focused on getting his elephants back. He gives a powerful furious performance.

I didn't mean to go on about the fight scenes, but they are incredible. The rest of the movie holds up pretty well, too. See it.

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

I love the bad guys in these movies. They're evil but fair. "All right fellahs, we outnumber him 20 to 1, so remember: no guns, and come at him one at a time!"