Sunday, September 10, 2006

Martial Arts Matinee

Yesterday, my brother and I caught a matinee ($7 a ticket!) of The Protector (a.k.a. Tom yum goong), starring Tony Jaa (a.k.a. Panom Yeerum).

Jaa's character Kham belongs to a clan entrusted to protect the King's elephants. When two of these elephants are stolen and his father murdered, Kham tracks the thieves from Thailand to Sydney, Australia, using his Muay Thai skills on a biker gang, a capoeira fighter, a swordsman, a handful of beefy bald wrestlers, and countless suited thugs.

Masterminding the theft is an ambitious woman with a mannish voice looking to become the new head of her father's crime syndicate. She poisons her brothers and steals the "perfect elephants" as signs of her authority. She's also pretty good with a whip.

This is the first of Jaa's movies I've seen. The fighting was good, but the number of enemies made it seem pointless after a while. There were some spectacular stunts, but I felt there was too much buidup, too much time to think about what would be done, for them to achieve the best effect. Kham's best opponent, Johnny, who originally stole the elephants, does not go down fighting but is simply dismissed by the dragon lady–never to be seen again.

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