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Overall Rating

Awesome: 41.67%
Worth A Look55%
Average: 1.67%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 1.67%

6 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Protector, The (2006)
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by brianorndorf

"Those damn Weinsteins ruined another gem!"
4 stars

“The Protector” is martial-art thunderbolt from Tony Jaa – the man sent from the heavens to save action movies. Pretty much incomprehensible, the film is nevertheless a blitzkrieg of fists, kicks, and broken bones, rounded out with incredible choreography. It’s the most exciting bit of mayhem I’ve seen so far this year.

When his family’s elephants are stolen by a gang of sadistic criminals, Cam (Tony Jaa) travels from his native Thailand to Australia to retrieve them from a dangerous illegal animal trafficking underground. With the help of a sympathetic prostitute and a cop, Cam urgently searches for his dearly loved friends, leaving a trail of broken bodies in his wake as he makes his way to the very unusual triad boss (famous transsexual ballerina, Jin Xing) behind the theft.

2003’s “Ong-Bak” gave birth to the Muay Thai action superstar Tony Jaa, and the martial arts genre was forever changed. Jaa is a human bullet, preferring authenticity to his rumblings, freshening up the action world to such a degree, I’m not sure how we made it this far without him. “Ong-Bak” was crudely crafted and borderline silly, but it made a dynamic impression. “The Protector” (known worldwide as “Tom Yum Goong”) solidifies Jaa as a force to be reckoned with.

Brutality is the name of the game in “Protector,” with Jaa and his director Prachya Pinkaew turning up the intensity of their fight choreography so much, it makes “Ong-Bak” look like a game of touch football. Jaa and his fight team are meticulous in their movement, while preserving the essential roughness of the punches and kicks. This is hardly featherweight Jackie Chan maneuvering or “Matrix” wire-work perfection; this is violence with a capital “OW!” Bodies are twisted, slapped, broken, thrown, and smashed with a kinetic sincerity that will make you duck and weave in your theater seat.

Introducing Jaa’s elephant-influenced variation on his Muay Thai training, the sheer poundings in the “Protector” are some of the most stunning I’ve seen in recent years, but Jaa and Pinkaew try to reach a little further for “The Protector.” The centerpiece of the film is bravura five-minute single shot following Kham as he fights his way to the top floor of a heavily populated criminal hideout. The sequence is astounding not only in its level of detail and woozy punch drunk delight, but also as a moment of virtuoso technical filmmaking. Jaa doesn’t stop for a breath as he rolls up floor after floor, snapping and tossing aside whatever poor bastard dares cross his path, tenaciously maintaining a pace that has to be the result of months of intricate planning and precise execution. Heavens, it worth the price of admission just to see this little sliver of the picture.

What keeps “Protector” from slipping into familiar, monotone action film territory is its animal loving soul. While the story can soar into outer space from time to time (as does the coherency), the heart of the film lies with those dear elephants, which is quite unique in a genre where most good guys waltz into battle to win the heart of a women or to protect childhood friends. Jaa fights for his pachyderm pals because of the companionship and loyalty they’ve shown him, swinging open a juicy and highly legitimate audience participation door to cheer him along as he kicks the living bejesus out of the wicked poachers and assorted thugs who challenge him on foot, rollerblade, or motor vehicle. It’s been a long time since I was invested this heavily in cinematic revenge instead of just watching it colorfully, but passively, thunder past my eyes.

For the U.S. release, “The Protector” has found its way into the hands of the Weinstein Company: the most feared import butchers of them all. Sadly, the film has been whittled down from an international running time of 110 minutes to just 85, losing a vital sense of spirituality to the elephant symbolism of the film, along with simple and important character development for some of the supporting players. It’s not an editing bloodbath like the one found on another Weinstein debacle, “Shaolin Soccer,” but it does unnecessarily neuter a unique and powerful motion picture.

“The Protector” may be an imperfect storytelling machine (made even worse by the American edit), and I’m a little dismayed that Pinkaew has discovered the joys of staging fireball stunts; however, regardless of its deficiencies, “The Protector” is a jaw-dropping, exhilarating action war cry rarely offered to American audiences anymore, and presents Tony Jaa as a timeless martial art icon to rival Bruce Lee.

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originally posted: 09/08/06 16:21:34
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User Comments

5/11/17 komal shah Bahubali 2 likely to rake in Rs 1,000 crore 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Amazing! 5 stars
7/15/07 Jason great movie, even without a plot! 5 stars
5/19/07 David Pollastrini great action 3 stars
3/02/07 Dark Enchatress Tony Jaa is killer! Great movie!!! 5 stars
1/18/07 action movie fan outstanding martial arts fight scenes-tony jaa rukles but plot line is a bit thin 4 stars
12/02/06 Amit man the action was awesome!!! 5 stars
11/11/06 Woody Best martial arts ever... but i could take him 5 stars
11/09/06 Jason Best martial art movie of the year! 5 stars
10/18/06 Zeke Torres SWEET! 5 stars
9/30/06 Kim Gerrohn Actions were so great! 5 stars
9/17/06 Covell The kung fu sequences are frigg'n amazing that yeah, Tony Jaa is better then Bruce Lee 5 stars
9/17/06 randommoviedude If you like Porno, you will love this movie. All action/ no story or character development 1 stars
9/16/06 TheGreatMacsby BEST martial arts film yet........ever! Villains were as good as hero! 5 stars
9/15/06 MDs. I like it 4 stars
9/13/06 Jorge Coronilla Awesome film. I loved it. 5 stars
9/12/06 mary wonderful and very good movie-The martial arts used was awesome 5 stars
9/12/06 KingNeutron There are an incredible number of 'Daaaaamn!' moments in this film. 4 stars
9/08/06 BrianDePalma This movie contains the very best fight scenes in the history of cinema 5 stars
8/14/06 Darth Vader Extraordinary fights - Jaa is better than Bruce Lee 5 stars
7/31/06 paul this movie is truely amazing 5 stars
7/14/06 Chris Good God... simply amazing 5 stars
6/19/06 Ginger Jaa Rulez 5 stars
6/17/06 Vega Incredible fight scenes make this movie a classic. Nobody bothers about the story 5 stars
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  08-Sep-2006 (R)
  DVD: 16-Jan-2007

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