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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 Rob Gonsalves

4 stars

In "The Protector," known in its native Thailand as "Tom Yum Goong," Tony Jaa plays a young man whose elephants are stolen. He wants them back. There are shabby attempts at other plot threads, but that's all the movie is about.

A gangster named Johnny has taken a majestic adult elephant and his baby son. Tony Jaa is supposed to protect those elephants. So Tony Jaa confronts Johnny on numerous occasions with dialogue so basic it's almost a Zen koan: "Johnny, where are my elephants??" "Johnny, you stole my elephants!" "Johnny, give me back my elephants!" Uh, Johnny? Tony Jaa really wants those elephants back.

Word around the campfire is that The Protector has been shorn of some fifteen minutes for its American debut; its distributor is The Weinstein Company, whose owners Bob and especially Harvey Weinstein are fond of taking scissors to everyone's movies except Quentin Tarantino's. (Tarantino "presents" The Protector, though he probably didn't do anything other than to say "Hey, Bob! Harvey! This movie is fuckin' cool!") So there were certain plot elements that lost me. Someone I didn't remember seeing before in the film shoots the police commissioner of Sydney, Australia, to the horror of several characters who seem to know the shooter. Tony Jaa's previous import, Ong-Bak, had similar problems. Characters appear and disappear at random. Fans of early Jackie Chan films will recall comparable plot dissonance.

As with Jackie Chan, though, you go to a Tony Jaa film for one reason, and it isn't the plot. Jaa, a master of Muay Thai martial arts, once again disregards gravity and physics, flying across rooms to knock down several flunkies with his knees. If a video game allowed you to do what Tony Jaa does, it would be the bestselling video game in history. This outing doesn't give Jaa quite as many eye-popping stunts as he had in Ong-Bak, though it does boast a truly astonishing sequence in which Jaa runs up several flights of stairs, disabling one attacker after another on each floor, in one unbroken take that lasts about four minutes. I couldn't even climb stairs for four minutes straight, never mind kicking dozens of asses. The sequence, which took a month to prepare and two weeks to shoot, is some sort of compressed masterpiece of kinetics.

After a while, The Protector becomes a kind of brutal comedy. Getting closer to the true power behind the elephant-stealing Johnny (a whip-wielding woman in blood-red lipstick), Jaa goes up against several wrestler types who look to be about twelve feet tall. (Jaa stands five-eight; like Chan, he's compact.) My favorite was the Aussie strongman Nathan B. Jones, a towering baldy who shrieks and roars at Jaa. (Oh, for some meaningful dialogue between the two: "RAAARRRGH!" "Where are my elephants??" "AAAARRRGH!!!" "Give me my elephants!!") There's also the alarming-looking Lateef Crowder as a dreadlocked capoeira fighter who almost gets the drop on Jaa, and Xing Jing as Madame Rose (ha, I love that name), the aforementioned whip artist. What I really wanted, at some point in the narrative, was a werewolf. Yes, a werewolf with a flamethrower, getting between Tony Jaa and his elephants. Or maybe a robot. A samurai robot with, like, fangs and shit. Because if you're going to make a movie this daft, why not go all the way?

The Protector is a fun, junky Saturday evening out, though I suspect you'd do better to get your hands on the original Tom Yum Goong, which may, for all I know, contain mitigating plot intricacies, plus a werewolf. Jaa remains perhaps the hardest-working actor in the world, and probably occupies the top slot on Internet death pools now that poor Steve Irwin has taunted his last croc. Actually, I worry more about the health of the many stuntmen who wind up on the receiving end of Jaa's heavy elbow landing on their skulls from twenty feet up.

I would like to see a documentary about a stuntman working on a Tony Jaa movie, unable to sleep the night before shooting his big scene in which he speeds towards Tony Jaa on a motorcycle and Tony Jaa knocks him off the bike into a plate-glass window with a well-aimed knee. And then it has to be done again because someone on the set sneezed. Maybe one of the elephants.

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originally posted: 09/10/06 11:13:01
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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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