The Protector aka Tom Yum Goong or Warrior King with Tony JaaThe second movie to be released starring the Martial Arts Action star Tony Jaa definitely doesn’t disappoint.  With a range of talented martial artists and action The Protector (aka Tom Yum Goong or Warrior King) will always be one of my favorite Tony Jaa flicks.

The short of it all – Tony Jaa plays Kham, a boy raised in Thailand who has a family of elephants very close to him.  When the Elephants are stolen and shipped off to Australia Kham goes looking for them, absolutely smashing any one in his path.

When he arrives in Sydney (and after bumping into a Jackie Chan look alike at the airport), he find himself up against a criminal organisation who has both of his elephants.  The Younger of the two, Korn, is found at a restaurant called Tom Yum Goong – a place for fine dining of endangered animals, drugs and prostitution.  After fighting his way through and rescuing Korn, he must then find Por Yai the oldest elephant.

Quality of the Story?

This movie does have some traditional roots, discussing the background of ‘protectors’ who fought to defend elephants during warring periods of Thailand’s history.  These warriors were trained in Muay Thai (and most definitely some other forms of martial arts), so this sets up Tony Jaa’s character and the massive journey he undergoes to recover these elephants.

Beside that, the movie is pretty much formula – a story set to house a heap of action full of martial artsaction set in Sydney with corrupt coppers and crime lords.  In saying that, the martial arts has it’s own cool theme which is shown more toward the end of the film.

The Protector Theme

Kham has a few flashbacks throughout the movie (shown in cgi just to be different) where more fighting philosophy and methods of ‘The Protectors’ are revealed.  Kham encounters the gigantic TK (Nathan Jones – a massive powerlifter and former professional fighter who towers at an astonishing 6’11) in a fight during the movie that he (Kham) seems to lose quite decisively (before the police sirens scare TK off).

Tony Jaa Elephant

When he finds Por Yai’s bones at the very end of the movie, Kham is forced to fight of a heap of henchmen.  During this fight Tony Jaa’s fighting style is very much a grapple and joint lock style.  He continues to break and snap the bones of his attackers (as was the traditional methods shown for the Protectors in one of his flash backs).  But once he is faced with TK and his group of massive strong men, he get’s beaten up quite some bit before having another flashback.

This flashback reveals that a protector must defend an Elephants tendons as even the perfect elephant will fall if the tendons are cut.  Kham then straps some of Por Yai’s bones to his arms and then continues to smash these guys until accidentally cutting a tendon when the bones smash.  He then continues his attack on these men, cutting their tendons and causing them to drop to the floor unable to fight – a fighting approach that comes full swing into the movies conclusion.

Tony Jaa and Nathan Jones

The Fight Scenes

This movie really has a solid line up of martial artists.  Obviously you have Tony Jaa as the lead, but also Johnny Nguyen the Vietnamese Martial Artist from the movie The Rebel.  You’ve also got famous the Capoeira stunt man Lateef Crowder who has been in tonnes of top Martial Arts flicks like Tekken, Undisputed 3 and Mortal Kombat Rebirth.  Staring along side Lateef in Tekken (as well as The Protector) is Jon Foo, who played the Wushu fighter to fight Kham straight after Lateef’s defeat.  To top it off you’ve got Nathan Jones, who has been in such action flicks as Troy and Fearless, and is really a visual standout in a movie like this.

The clash of styles from each actor (and their character) made for some pretty amazing fight scenes.  It seems Tony Jaa wanted to increase the level of skill in his opponents after Ong Bak and create a much more exciting film.  As usual Tony Jaa’s work has him very light on his feet, with lots of acrobatic movements and flashy techniques.

One particular scene is especially impressive – Kham arrives at Tom Yum Goong and ascends a staircase, fighting off a heaps of thugs.  This whole fight up the stairs was done in one shot and is an incredibly impressive feat for a film, considering the amount of physical endurance and lack of error required to pull it off effectively.

This movie never goes long without a fight scene too.  Where some movies spread them too thin, or save the fights to the end of the movie, this movie has found the balance to keep the entire viewing experience action packed but still with enough space to tell the story.

Would I recommend it?

This movie is for movie fans who want to sit and be wowed with spectacular martial arts action.  The movie isn’t exactly a deep thought provoking film but it has a little philosophy and story behind it for the fan who pays attention to it, but it’s second to the action. Either way, it’s Tony Jaa!  Watch it before the sequel comes out later this year!

Find it on Blu-ray

This movie is entirely Region Free on Blu-ray (or at least the copy I have
is, bought from below), in Thai/English, with English & Spanish Subtitles.
The Protector on Blu-ray

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Protector (Two-Disc Collector’s Edition)

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
Warrior King (Alternate Title) on DVD

Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
The Protector on DVD 

More info on DVD & Blu Ray regions here

or Watch The Protector Online Here (US & Canada)

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