Tom Yum Goong 2 (Review)

Tom Yum Goong 2

aka ต้มยำกุ้ง 2 aka The Protector 2
Tom Yung Goong 2 Protector
Written by Eakisit Thairaat
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Tom Yung Goong 2 Protector Jeeja
An elephant gets stolen again, causing Tony Jaa to kick lots of people again. This time, the stunts are bigger and 3D driven, but also more CGI enhanced and less realistic, which is a shame. There is no long tracking shot like in Tom Yum Goong, and the more memorable fights are remembered because of their gimmicks, not because of their awesomeness. But that sounds like I’m bagging on Tom Yum Goong 2 a bit hard, it was still some good fun, even if it can’t live up to it’s predecessor. And let’s face it, there aren’t many martial arts films that can.

Tom Yum Goong 2 went into production in August 2011. It was delayed by horrible Thailand floods, Tony Jaa doing weird things, production infighting, Jeeja’s unplanned pregnancy, and a bunch of other problems too boring to reiterate. It’s more of a minor miracle the film was completed at all, and isn’t terrible. But the money and the problems changed a few things for the worse, and didn’t give anything in return.
Tom Yung Goong 2 Protector
The fights are now 3D, so there is less continual choreography and long shots and more 3D-ish effects, which sort of makes them worse. The made-for-3Dness makes the CGI additions a lot more noticeable, especially when you aren’t watching in 3D. But even if I was, there wasn’t that much going on that made me wish I was watching in 3D. 3D doesn’t make the kicks any harder, nor does it make the tracking shots suddenly several minutes long. All we get is a few random CGI items floating across the screen. The most creative shots they didn’t even use outside of one part, which was a POV facecam as Kham was running from a bunch of goons.
Tom Yung Goong 2 Protector eeja

Kham (Tony Jaa) – Kham is back and he’s still got his elephant, but now the elephant Korn is in danger…oh, wait, that happened last time. So Kham now has to beat up a lot of people…oh, wait, that happened last time! Eh, just enjoy him kicking butt!
Ping Pong (“Jeeja” Yanin Vismistananda) – Ping Pong and her sister Sue-sue (Theerada Kittiseriprasert) walk in on Kham standing over the body of their murdered uncle, and immediately begin attacking him and chase him down. Only after an examination of the corpse does Ping Pong realize their mistake, but by then Sue-sue has been killed by Number 02. Ping Pong uses drugged needles and agility to defeat larger foes.
Mr. LC (RZA) – Leader of an underground fighting club that does all sorts of bad things, including gun running and getting involved in international assassination attempts to foster dictatorial ambitions of warlords. He never loses, so don’t tell him he lost. His group is ranked, but he made sure to tattoo Number 00 on his head so we all know he’s the best that ever was.
Sergeant Mark (Petchtai Wongkamlao) – Kham’s old friend from Australia is in Thailand helping out with all the diplomatic things going on, and gets involved with Kham’s latest elephant kidnapping party.
Number 02 (Marrese Crump) – Largely silent fighter who wants to be the best fighter there ever was, and will punch whoever and whatever it takes to get there. Murders with a unique series of close blows. Has a complicated honor system, but is still pretty evil and loyal to Mr. LC. Marrese Crump was RZA’s stunt double on The Man with the Iron Fists, and got promoted to costar here.
Number 20 (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) – One of Mr. LC’s fighters, loyal to him because he saved her during a sexual assault and trained her in fighting so she could get revenge on her attackers.

Tom Yung Goong 2 Protector
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The Kick

The Kick

aka 더 킥 aka วอนโดนเตะ!!

Story by Prachya Pinkaew
Screenplay by Lee Jong-suk Lee
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Thai and Korean co-production The Kick shot on people’s radar for two reasons: Director Prachya Pinkaew, and Jija Yanin having a supporting role in the film. That’s all that was reported, and for the longest time it was hard to tell what kind of role Jija even had in the flick. Well, time has passed, and now The Kick is available on DVD and we can see Jija has a substantial supporting role in the last 2/3rds of the flick and participates in several fight scenes. There is also plenty of other action from the Korean actors, but the film does drag at points due to pacing and humor issues. It is far from Prachya Pinkaew’s best work. It’s almost another Jakkalan, though it does give us an interesting Korean/Thai hybrid film, something I don’t think there are too many examples of.

Though I thought I wouldn’t care about the Korean family, they began to grow on me (except for the young kid!) and even though they spend a good amount of time yelling at each other, they also come together to deal with bigger threats. Each family member has a different martial arts move skill, and the fights jump from solo to various pairings to group fighting. Unfortunately due to the amount of characters we rotate through the scenes quickly when all hell is breaking loose. The fight scenes in the last 20 minutes are great, but they also make the prior 90 minutes look terrible. I wish it had been more consistent on the choreography. In fact, I’d probably suggest just skipping until the end for most casual fans and people who don’t like putting up with nonsense.

Prachya Pinkaew has become a household name in martial arts film fan circles, with Ong-Bak, Tom-Yum-Goong, and Chocolate under his belt, and several upcoming films that look to be awesome as well. Several of the stars are members of the Korean Tigers tae kwon do group.

Moon (Cho Jae-hyun) – Father of the clan who is dealing with his own family issues and expectations while trying to raise his own children and instill similar values on them. Cho Jae-hyun headlines many Kim Ki-duk films. He’s also somewhere in Love So Divine
Yoon (Yea Ji-won) – Mom of the family who uses her skills for cooking. Most of her fights are comedic in nature.
Tae Yang (Taejoo) – Older son of the family and aspiring dancer. His dad is not too fond of his dancing dreams, even though Tae Yang incorporates the martial arts in his dancing. Often runs into trouble for some reason, he just must have awful luck. Taejoo sometimes is credited as Na Tae-joo.
Tae Mi (K Kim) – The lone daughter who plays soccer with the tae kwon do skills she learned from her father. Usually runs across her brother getting into random trouble. K Kim is also known as Kim Kyung-suk, she is a World Tae kwon do champion
Wawa (Jeeja Yanin) – Niece of zoo owner and friend of the family Mum, and the girl Tae Yang tries to impress. Has mad skills. See more Jija in Chocolate, Raging Phoenix, and Jakkalan.

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Jakkalan (Review)


aka This Girl Is Bad-Ass aka จั๊กกะแหล๋น

Directed by Petthai “Mum Jokmok” Wongkumlao
Everyone who reads this site regularly (all four of you!) knows that TarsTarkas.NET has been following the career of Jeeja Yanin Vismitananda (or however her name is spelled this week!) From Chocolate to Raging Phoenix, we’ve watched her kick people in the head again and again. And now, with Jakkalan, there is more kicking of heads. But not that much more. And mostly weirdo Thai comedians being weird Thai comedians. So, it is disappointing, to say the least. A waste of time, to be more wordsmithy. Something to actively avoid, to be long-winded. That’s not really that long, but you get the idea.
With the overseas name This Girl Is Bad-Ass, the distributors are obviously capitalizing on Jeeja’s popularity in the West as a cult female action star. The problem is most of the film is barely about her. I am not sure how this is going to get cut for overseas, because besides the lack of Jeeja and lack of fighting scenes, the rest of the film is Thai comedy, and that rarely translates well to Western audiences in the best of films. In Jakkalan, it’s mostly dialogue comedy, which translates even worse, and beyond worse if you’re watching with no subtitles like I did (at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!) What is weird is I am against cutting foreign films for American markets just on principle, so I’m technically against the only thing that could save Jakkalan. It’s like Sophie’s Choice! Jakkalan’s Choice.
Jakkalan tries to do too much while also wandering around and not doing much of anything. Director Mum threw in so many random comedians who all get screentime, screeching the film to a halt as everyone acts goofy and does goofy things. That’s great and all, but we came for the fighting! But we’re inundated with goofy costumes and goofy voices as every comedian in Thailand has an excuse to run wild playing a gangster.

Jakkalan (“Jeeja” Yanin Vismitananda) – Jakkalan is a tomboy bicycle messenger who beats up bullies and crushes on a rocker guy with a secret that was obvious even without subtitles. Despite being the title character and the entire focus of the marketing, she’s only in like half of the film and there are just three fights.
Uncle (Petthai “Mum Jokmok” Wongkumlao) – Jakkalan’s uncle, who raises her from a baby while struggling to also run his video store business. And is caught in the middle when all the gangster stuff happens. Mum Jokmok also directed the film, and is a Thai comedian, thus all the other comedians in the flick.
Suitor (Akhom Pridakun) – This man with the great teeth spends most of the film pursuing Jakkalan, who doesn’t have time to even look at him. Was saved from a bully by Jakkalan as a child, thus his crush.
Schoolgirl Fighter (Alisa Sonthirot) – It’s a schoolgirl because we need to make someone Jeeja fights slightly memorable! Slightly. The only info on Alisa Sonthirot is where I got her name from, WiseKwai’s site.

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Raging Phoenix (Review)

Raging Phoenix

aka Jija Deu Suay Du

Directed by Rashane Limtrakul

Raging Phoenix is film a mix of romance and action, which garnered many reviews that weren’t that positive, largely due to disappointment it wasn’t another non-stop action film. I feel that there was plenty of action and am not really sure what all the complaints are about. I suspect it is more due to the length of time between action sequences making the film seem longer than it is.

Basically, people are complaining because this film has a plot longer than one sentence!

Now, a plot is not a bad thing, but the plot here has character arcs and an underlying plot that factors into the finale. It is constructed just fine, and try as I might I just can’t see why this was given such a harsh response. It wasn’t Chocolate 2 and it didn’t try to be, and it is unfair to expect it to be when it is screaming at you that it isn’t.

But it was too late, the bad reviews sunk in and it failed to reach No. 1 at the Thai box office on its opening weekend, losing out to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra which was in its second week. Sure, people still don’t like this film for a variety of reasons, but as I am not one of them I can’t speak as to specifics beyond the general tone of the film.

Raging Phoenix is known in Thailand as Jija Deu Suay Du, which means Jija: Stubborn, Beautiful and Fierce. As Jija’s character is named Deu, that means her character name is Stubborn. This role is a change of direction for Jija, as it involving acting beyond playing someone with emotional issues. She had to actually become a real person, which I think she pulled off rather well.

The director, co-writer and co-editor was Rashane Limtrakul, who had his debut film in 1995 (Romantic Blue) and then directed nothing until this 2009 feature. That’s about all I know about him.

This is probably the only film you have seen featuring mayraiyuth, the drunken Thai martial art. Unless you are a big fan of drunken Thai martial arts movies, in which case you would have seen more than this one and made my statement false. How dare you, sir!

But enough of the rantin’, let’s get to the reviewin’!

First up is the Roll Call, because we can’t have a review without it due to my deep mental issues of wanting formatting that makes the reviews take ten times longer than they should!

Deu (“Jija” Yanin Wismistananda) – a drummer chick, abandoned by her parents as a child and eventually abandoned by her band and boyfriend. Her drunken haze after drinking off her abandonment issues ends up getting her kidnapped, but she is rescued by Sanim. Eventually, Sanim and his boys train her in mayraiyuth, the drunken Thai martial art, and starts becoming a rescuer of kidnapped girls. And is in love with Sanim, even though he only has eyes for his kidnapped fiancée.
Sanim (Patrick “Kazu” Tang) – a strong, mostly-silent type who hangs out with a couple of other guys rescuing girls. Looking for his abducted bride Mye. Deu falls for him, but he is focused on his lost love. Sanim is played by French-Vietnamese martial artist “Kazu” Patrick Tang.
Kee Moo (Nui “B Boy Mr. 60 Rock” Sandang) – The Mohawked member of the rescue gang. Helps to train Deu when she first joins up. Kee Moo means pig dung.
Kee Ma (Sompong “B Boy Haste” Leartvimolkasame) – The long-haired member of the rescue gang who is good pals with Kee Moo. Kee Ma means dog dung.
Kee Kwai (Boonprasert “B Boy Dman” Salangam) – The enigmatic dreadlocked member of the gang who is usually out doing stuff. Kee Kwai means buffalo dung, so we got the three dung brothers. And by now you should have a pretty heavy vocabulary in Thai.
Jaguar London (Roongtawan “Sing” Jindasing) – Jaguar’s chief enforcer, played by the female bodybuilder Roongtawan Jindasing. She has won more body building competitions than you can shake a stick at, you girly man! No offense to our actual lone female reader. You can see her official website here.
Jaguar Tokyo (Hoang Nghi) – a Scarred Jet Li-looking guy who is part of the Jaguar gang and steals women. What a nice guy!
Jaguar Bombay (David Bueno) – A red hair guy whose hair looks brighter thanks to the filters used in the film. He’s a member of the Jaguar gang and steals women. Another nice guy!

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Chocolate (Review)


Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

Thailand has been making films for a long time. Sadly, their films have not gained much interest outside their home country until recently, which is a shame as some of their older efforts (like Insee Thong for example) are worth checking out. Tony Jaa has helped put modern Thai films on the map. His martial arts films and the stunt therein have given lots of fame to the industry. Many people are unaware of the man behind Tony Jaa, who is also the man behind this film. Director Prachya Pinkaew was Tony Jaa’s mentor, directing him in Ong Bak, and now has a new, female prodigy, the star of this film Yanin “Jeeja” Wismistananda. Director Prachya Pinkaew has been involved in making movies in Thailand for years, but until his recent fame with Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong, most of them haven’t left Thailand ever, now many can be found in VCD format. In addition, some of them can be found in this movie, being watched by Zen in between her own fights.

Setting out to make the film feel different from the start, Zen is autistic, so does not act like your normal fighting chick. But she has the ability to learn to copy movements, which makes her a natural fighter. The storyline of the film works to get Zen from one giant set-piece to another in order to have many well-choreographed battles. This works rather well, and towards the end you just sit back and watch as the stunts get wilder and the choreography gets more intricate. The fight choreographer was Panna Rittikrai, also of Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong fame. Prachya Pinkaew said he went in the autistic direction because Jeeja Wismistananda didn’t have any sex appeal (see Wise Kwai’s Blog.) She has no sex appeal like zebras have no stripes.

Chocolate is in a mix of English and Japanese, but is mainly Thai, so subtitles are on. As the film is not widely available in the US yet, there are bootlegs with terrible subs out there, so be warned. They are not necessary to enjoy the action, but help you follow a bit of the plot. Luckily, I had a real version, so the language barrier was no problem, not that no subtitles has ever been a problem here on TarsTarkas.NET.

Zen (Yanin “Jeeja” Vismistananda)- Autistic daughter, has muscle memory (once she sees it, she can do it, like that girl on Heroes) can catch almost anything, afraid of flies. Loves her mother very much. Jeeja did all the stunts herself, and was even kicked in the eye (requiring her to wear an eyepatch for a bit!)
Zin (Ammara “Zom” Siripong) – Zen’s Mother and lover of Masashi, former lover of No. 8. A famous actress and singer in her home country, Ammara Siripong was a torch carrier when the Olympic flame went through Thailand in 2008, and is an avid supporter of marine-life conservation.
Moom (Taphon Phopwandee) – Zen’s brother, a former street orphan adopted by Zin. Full name is Mangmoom. Does street performances with Zen in order to earn extra money for Zin’s illness. Finds the book filled with names that owe Zin money.
Masashi (Hiroshi Abe) – Zen’s gangster absentee father. Not absentee by choice. Forced out of Thailand by No. 8 after he took Zin as his lover, and forbidden to see her or his daughter under threat of death. Returns to Thailand when Zin and Zen get into trouble. Has a fascination with imperfection.
No. 8 (Pongpat Wachirabunjong) – Thai mob boss (is the Thai mob known by an special name like Yakuza or Triads?) and former lover of Zin. Number 8 lost his beloved to Masashi, so shot off his own toe to teach himself a lesson. That lesson was “Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!” Dresses pretty retro. Eight is a lucky number in Asian culture, just look at how many Chinese restaurants have 8 in their name (or 18 or 88).
Priscilla (Dechawut Chuntakaro) – Transvestite apprentice to No. 8. Brutal enforcer and jealous of Zin and No. 8’s affection for Zin. But still sympathetic enough to give some money to Moom and Zen when they are street performing. Dechawut “Day” Chuntakaro is a cabaret diva.

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