Warrior King

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Thai martial arts phenomenon Tony Jaa continues his advance into the West with this lively actioner from Prachya Pinkaew, director of the breakthrough Ong-Bak. Originally titled Tom Yung Goong, and also known as The Protector, it’s a two-parter starting off in Thailand, where the atmospherics include shots of young Khan (Jaa) going to school on the back of an elephant and the politics include remarks which westerners might find mildly perplexing (no, we’re not loved the world over), much as you got in Ong-Bak. As for action, the kicking starts about 20 minutes in plus there’s a sequence reminiscent of the speedboat chase in Live and Let Die (ie preposterous yet thrilling). The action then shifts uneasily to Australia and into the English language for a showdown involving lots of truly spellbinding muay thai – no wires, no SFX, just raw Tony Jaa action. It’s a chaotically plotted film that’s clearly been cast out of Thailand – the Aussie actors aren’t very good. Still, the stunt ideas are interesting – you don’t see BMX bikes and fluorescent tubes used in action films every day. Now, if Jaa could only decide whether he wants to be Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.

Warrior King aka The Protector – at Amazon

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© Steve Morrissey 2006

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