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"The Protector"

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew.
Written by a whole bunch of Thai guys.
Starring Tony Jaa.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  9/5/06


After going to see "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior" last year, I'll admit that the stuntwork of new action star Tony Jaa was pretty cool, even if the movie was a piece of shit that had one of the funniest death lines of all time:

"Go...and get...a good...JOB..."

Now, in "The Protector" (thanks a bunch for attaching your name, lecherous Quentin Tarantino), Jaa is back for more ass-whuppin' fun.  This time, he's Kham, a Muay Thai student who is tasked with protecting the symbolic elephants of his community.  When two of the most important elephants from his village are kidnapped and hauled off to Sydney, Australia, Kham must go to Sydney to retrieve the holy ivory-bearing family members his community must have in order to survive!

Forgetting the fact that our audience had boatloads of fun just from the number of times Jaa has to mimic anger over losing a bunch of elephants, "The Protector" does improve--slightly--over the awful filmmaking of "Ong-Bak."  The first and most important change is the editing, which goes from fucking horseshit to pretty sweet, thanks to improved camerawork and zero replays from five different angles (this alone nearly destroyed "Ong-Bak"; how many times in slo-mo do I have to watch a guy get elbowed in the head??).  Recognizing that our man Jaa has just about the weakest tough-guy voice in tough-guy history, he has even fewer lines in "The Protector"; actually, there isn't much talking at all in this movie, maybe because it's only 80 minutes long but also because after the first 10 minutes, it's all about butts getting kicked and setups to the next action sequence.

Sure, some of the transitions are bad--I'm still not sure how a poor villager bought a plane ticket to Australia, and can elephants jump into trucks from the ground?--but things are moving so fast you don't get much time to ponder these questions.  "The Protector" has what must be the single-best limb-breaking sequence of all time near the conclusion; in general, the moves of Jaa in this film seem to hurt his assailants more often, much to the delight of the packed house in attendance this evening.  And, in one incredible master shot, Jaa whoops about fifty asses while descending a bad guy hideout; one wonders how many takes it took to get everything to work just right, but it's a tight sequence since so many guys get it good.

I still wish that a director with real talent would take the reins for the next Jaa feature, but it looks like the guy that did both "Ong-Bak" and "The Protector" has the next Jaa flick as well.  Still, "The Protector" does take some big strides and hopefully, they'll hire somebody to write a decent script the next go-round.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09