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.
Comments? Drop me a line at
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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