The Protector (Tom yum goong )
I thought I would review a movie probably many of you loyal readers have missed. If you are like me, you probably have not had a chance to check out many movies from Thailand. The Protector (or Tom Yum Goong) is definitely the first I had ever seen from Thailand. For whatever reason, The Protector was released as "Warrior King" in the UK.
To be honest, I really have no idea why I even chose to watch this as it didn't sound too intriguing on paper to me. And I never go on Quentin Tarantino's recommendation now that he goes around stamping his name and seal of "quality" on other people's movies. Does anyone really take these recommendations seriously? How can one lead a good life listening to the person who brought us Four Rooms? However, The Protector is one of the most popular foreign films ever here in the US, so maybe people do listen or maybe the quality of the film spread through word of mouth.
The Protector is a movie from Thailand and filmed in Australia which was released in 2006. The film centers around the holy elephants in Thailand and a young man whose job is to protect these important animals. (Breeding holy elephants and then protecting these elephants is an ancient tradition in Thailand.) One of these majestic animals and its baby as well gets kidnapped and smuggled out of the country by a gang of criminals. The lead character Kham, played by Tony Jaa, must go and rescue these elephants mostly using his Thai martial arts skills.
I am not a chick that is incredibly into fighting styles or martial arts or anything- but the fight scenes (and trust, me there are lots!) in this movie are really incredible. Its amazing what Tony Jaa can do. In fact, he developed a new style of Muay Thai specifically for this film based on the movements of an elephant when defending itself. The fights in this movie that Kham engages in to protect his elephant includes taking on various experts in different fighting disciplines including a ballerina, a capoeira fighter, a Wushu martial artist, a former WWE wrestler. This is pretty cool stuff, again I believe the fighting in this film is interesting even for someone not super into movies with fight scenes.
I am putting this film in the "movies with something to say" category because although this film was a bit light on plot and dialogue I found the cultural significance and interwoven Thai hiistory really very interesting. Also it was very touching to see a man fight for an elephant he loves. This movie is really a must see if you are interested in foreign cinema in the least.
Visuals: A (great sets and a very different look to this film overall)