With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE PROTECTOR 2 is now available

Magnet Releasing
a division of
Magnolia Home Entertainment
The Protector 2 / Tom Yum Goong 2
(a.k.a.  Warrior King 2 in the United Kingdom)
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
Starring Tony Jaa, RZA,  Phetthai Vongkumlao,
Marrese Crump, and Ratha Phongam
Thailand, 2013, 104 minutes

The Protector 2 is Prachya Pinkaew's sequel to his 2005 film The Protector. (Pinkaew also directed the original Ong Bak film.) Starting today, Tuesday, July 29th, it's available in North America as either a 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack ($39.98), a Blu-ray ($29.98), or a DVD ($26.98). I watched the regular Blu-ray version for this review.

Once again Tony Jaa stars as Kham and again he loses his elephant and must rescue it. And again he is assisted by Mark (Phetthai Vongkumlao), an Australian policeman. This time his main adversary is LC (the RZA), an arms dealer with a yen for brutal martial arts contests.

The 3D roots of the film are evident even in the 2D Blu-ray version. For example, at one point Jaa, who has been on top of a vehicle, is hurled off of it when it crashes into the side of a bridge, and his body comes flying straight at the camera.

The following shots make use of safety wires, as is made explicit in an extra feature and which no doubt will turn off some Jaa fans. I had no problem with the occasional use of wires and some CGI. I mean, no one in their right mind is going to send Jaa off of the tallest bridge in Souteast Asia without using a safety harness and wires.

A bit less easy to understand or excuse is the recycling of certain stunts from the original Ong Bak film. Here I'm thinking of two scenes in particular. One has Jaa running, then sliding under a table on the fronts of his lower legs with his body leaning backwards, almost horizontal to the ground. Another is a fight scene in which his feet and lower legs are on fire, although The Protector 2 does up the ante here in that the lower extremities of his multiple opponents are also on fire as is the room in which they're fighting. This scene, in which the room essentially is a furnace, uses both practical and CGI fire, again a point made explicit in an extra.

For me the film's biggest fault is a matter of casting. I think that RZA is sincere in his love for and appreciation of Asian martial arts movies. I also think he's talented. Unfortunately, his talents don't include an ability to convincingly act nor to engage in serious martial arts combat, most particularly him going one-on-one against Jaa. Their climactic fight is perhaps as well choreographed as it could be, given RZA's limitations, but it's pretty much hollow and unconvincing.

Disc Special Features:
- Behind the Scenes Featurettes:
  - Cast & Characters
  - Speaking with the Director
  - Action & Stunts, Working in 3D
- AXS TV: A Look at The Protector 2
- Trailers

AsianCineFest Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars. A fairly good film. Definitely of some interest, but with some serious flaws. Maybe not well-worth-watching, but definitely worth-watching. Give it an extra 1/2 star if you don't mind RZA's performance.

If you're going to buy The Protector 2 and have a 3D television, I think that the 3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray combo pack is probably the way to go. No 3D TV? Then go for the Blu-ray for just $3 more than the DVD, at least in terms of the SRPs.

For more info:

Official Site: www.protector2.com

Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Protector2TonyJaa