From the creators of Ong-bak comes another adrenaline-fuelled, action-packed & bone-cracking delight that finds Tony Jaa upping the ante when compared to his breakout feature, for The Protector (Tom-Yum-Goong) features several upgrades in camerawork & stunt choreography but also has to rely on its action segments to overcome the obvious shortcomings in script & narration.
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the film at first tries to establish the close bonding between our protagonist & his elephants and it’s carried out with care & affection. But the plot goes haywire after that, thanks to inconsistent jump cuts, choppy editing & jarring subtitles, which in turn makes the narrative structure so incongruent & confusing that the whole experience is severely affected.
The action set pieces are more refined than they were in the duo’s previous effort but their presence isn’t in tune with the story requirements as many of the action scenes exist only for Tony Jaa to showcase his martial arts talents instead of being led there by the unfolding events. It’s no doubt impressive to watch but it could’ve been integrated in a way that was seamless & not forced.
Just like Ong-bak, Tom-Yum-Goong rides heavily on Jaa’s raw agility & precision combat skills and the renowned martial artist leaves no stone unturned this time, even managing to earn some points on acting scale. The slow-mo technique is a bit overdone yet it is definitely an improvement over their previous venture. The other actors provide serviceable inputs but it’s Jaa who holds this film together.