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The Protector
DVD disk
01.23.2007 By: Mathew Plale
The Protector order
Director:
Prachya Pinkaew

Actors:
Tony Jaa
Petchtai Wongkamlao
Xing Jing

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When Kham’s (Tony Jaa) elephants are stolen by an evil gang, he must travel to Australia to retrieve his sacred animals. Yeah, that old story.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
88 minute American version:

Pay no attention to the plotline. It’s far from important, and is only used to push our hero into over-the-top battle sequences.

With a (and I hate using this word in reviews) stupid storyline, shoddy performances, and laughable lines like the one above, The Protector is a failure. But for those not interested in a compelling story and decent writing, they will have the action to fall back on.

The fight scenes are hit-or-miss. Most of them serve up nothing new (as far as stunts go), and run too long. But the phenomenal part about the duller fights is that there are no stunt doubles (though IMDb.com’s cast/crew link begs to differ), no wires, and no CGI. Sounds like a gimmick, but it’s not. Despite repetition (if you’ve seen one Bruce Lee-wannabe break a guy’s limb once, you’ve seen it a million times), the action is 100% real, which is quite impressive. There is one fight in particular that because of coordination by Panna Rittikrai, manages to breathe some life into the film.

The camerawork, editing, and videogame-esque music are all irritating. The editing itself makes the film close to incoherent, especially towards the beginning. And if someone could explain to me why there were computer-animated (so there is CGI…f’in’ Weinsteins) dream sequences, that’d be great, cause I couldn’t make heads or elephant-tails out of it.

Note: I’ve checked through every movie ever, and The Protector is the only one to contain the line, “Would you care to comment about the Thai-man with the red scarf and the stolen elephant?”

108-minute Thai version:

The longer version of the film offers nothing good that the American cut left out. You're better off listening to the highly-informative commentary to learn what's in here and why it's not essential.
THE EXTRAS
DISC 1:

Feature Commentary with Asian film expert Bey Logan: It's always nice to have an expert on the film's particular genre sit down and talk. With high enthusiasm, the commentary is littered with fun facts (she's a transvestite?!). He also goes into what is included in the even duller extended version.

Deleted Fight Scene (2:06): Nothing special, but worth seeing a guy spit out his own teeth. Has unfinished sound.

No Wires Attached: Making... (15:00): This featurette goes into what it's like to shoot with elephants and briefly go into how they filmed certain scenes. It's refreshing to watch a BTS for an action film that contains no wires. Expert Logan is a great addition, as well.

Making Tony Jaa (6:30): A brief piece on the evolution of Jaa's techinques, from childhood to training with coordinator Panna Rittikrai.

The Director's Guided Tour: The Stairwell Scene (35:03): A great (if lengthy) look into how they filmed the tremendous, videogame-like 4-minute shot. We see 5 different takes, each with director Pinkaew explaining why they don't work.

Tony Jaa Martial Arts Demonstration (2:03): 4 demos, best suited for those who get bullied, or Dwight from The Office.

"8 Limbs" Mobisode: A Cellphone Video (3:38): Interested in seeing a cartoon Tony Jaa demolish 8 opponents? If so...

Also on Disc 1 are a Soundtrack Promotion and a Trailer.

DISC 2:

Making Tom Yum Goong (55:34): Another documentary on the making of the film, but obviously more in-depth due to its increased length. Again, quite good.

And rounding out this Ulitmate Edition are 3 Short Films from a Tony Jaa-inspired contest, which martial arts buffs will probably enjoy.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
While The Protector offers nothing too exhilerating as far as the fights go, the technicalities of them are quite marvelous. For that, you may enjoy watching it--just don't go in expecting a good story, performances, or anything that really would make a good film.
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