Tony Jaa is amazing at what he does.
Some of the extra features seemed a little unnecessary.
In The Protector the plot may be simple but the action and effects, performed with no stunt doubles, with no wires, and no CGI certainly are not. Tony Jaa stars as Kham, a man on a mission to rescue some elephants after they have been stolen from him and his father by an international mafia syndicate. Trailing the elephants back to Australia, Kham gets the help of a Thai Police Sergeant named Mark and a slave named Pla. This trail eventually leads him to that of a mafia boss known as Madame Rose, and this movie culminates in Jaa doing battle against 50 people.
Depending on your tastes, you may or may not care for The Protector. If you are looking for some deep meaningful film experience that is going to solve all the world's problems, you probably won't want to screen this movie. If you are looking for an intense, action experience with a nice amount of soul and heart, then The Protector will certainly take care of you.
Making The Protector
Sadly, what was an otherwise nicely put together featurette was marred by poor sound. They discuss how this movie utilized no wires, no CGI, no stunt doubles, etc.. They then proceed to break down the story of this film, but that quickly turns into them talking about the action scenes and how they were put together. The big focus here is on the fact that they created a 4 minute fight scene that has no cuts in it. Watching it, the scene looks and feels like a video game.
Deleted Fight Scene
Asian Film expert Bey Logan does the honors here and I was quite impressed with his offhand knowledge of the film. He talks about Quentin Tarantino's involvement and how that will help this movie gain a wider audience. Bey then goes on to discuss such things as plot logic, location, production design, and just about everything else contained in this film. Sometimes I thought he told us too much of what we were already seeing on screen, but for the most part this man has a keen knack for the language of cinema and Asian films.
"8 Limbs" Mobisode
Making Tony Jaa
Having seen Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, I was happy to sit down and watch a featurette in which I got to hear Jaa tell his own story in his own words. Basically, this guy seems like he was naturally meant to be doing all this stuff. He was into sports and gymnastics and he practiced his martial arts all the time when he was younger. We also hear other people in the business talk about him, and they discuss things like how Jaa can "stay in the air" a little longer than the other action stars. Apparently, Jaa is quite good at transferring his weight.
Director's Guided Tour
Director Prachya Pinkaew breaks down the 4 minute fight scene here. He begins by explaining that movies that don't cut during action scenes, usually don't cut for 10 minutes, but he only did it for four, it seems, to increase the action. I enjoyed watching this because I had wondered how a scene like this might be put together, but by about this time in my viewing of the Special Features, I thought that what I was seeing was a tad redundant. Still, anyone wishing to make martial arts movies would do well to check this out.
Making Tom Yum Goong
The title you read above, Tom Yum Goong is actually the original name of The Protector (the title was changed to most likely make it more suitable for it's American release). Hey, if they can create a buzz in the U.S. with a title like Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior, I don't see what the big deal is about a picture called Tom Yum Goong. This featurette examined how this movie got made and how it eventually came stateside. It was nice to watch, but if you have seen the supplemental features on the other disc you can probably pass on this.
Short Films From the Take On Tony Jaa Contest
Widescreen Version presented in a "Matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for Widescreen TVs. What really makes the films of Tony Jaa stand out isn't so much the action (obviously, that's always quite good), but I think it's the style and the images created by Prachya Pinkaew. This movie has a very measured look and feel about it. It is stylized but not in a way that detracts from the story. It almost felt like Pinkaew was going out of his way to do something visually different in every scene. On DVD, this movie played quite well and even though I screened it on a small screen, The Protector didn't feel small. It can be viewed here in the U.S. Theatrical Version and in the Uncut International Version.
Dolby Digital. This movie sounded good but to be honest, I wanted to watch it without the dub job that had been applied to this release. The only problem with doing that is I have to spend a lot of the film reading the subtitles. Now, while dialogue may not be the most important aspect of this film, that is what I personally need to follow to get the plot information. All in all, things sounded good, I just didn't really pay attention to them like I normally do.
Tony Jaa slyly eyes us on this front cover which features fights, action, and lots of flames happening all around him. The back portion of this DVD continues this flames and fights motif, offering more pictures from the movie, a description that doesn't say much about the film, a long Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. Both of the discs in this set are neatly stored inside this case, with each one getting it's own tray.
When I was given The Protector to review, I honestly was not too excited about it. I was expecting this to be another martial arts film that was going to telegraph it's subtext, and at the same time expect me to buy into some deeper meaning or something. Then I realized that this was a film starring Tony Jaa and I knew that at the very least, the action scenes were going to be entertaining enough to make the plot of this film irrelevant. It isn't that I didn't care about what was happening in this movie, or that the story doesn't matter, I just was able to take what was being put across in stride.
While I honestly don't think too much work went into putting this story together, it would be wrong to make it seem like The Protector was only concerned with excessive action. This is a film that has a good mix of the kinds of things moviegoers want, while never really taking itself any more seriously than it should.
The Protector was released August 11, 2005.