aka ต้มยำกุ้ง 2 aka The Protector 2 2013 Written by Eakisit Thairaat
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew
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.
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.
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.
aka ต้มยำกุ้ง aka The Protector 2005 Written by Prachya Pinkaew, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Napalee, Piyaros Thongdee, and Joe Wannapin
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew “Where’s my elephant?” – Kham, like 1000 times.
“Where’s my elephant?” demanded the small man with the big confidence. The goons stood and smirked, surely this small man was small and thus no threat. The next thing they remember is waking up in the hospital, having been kicked through the door. Thus the adventure begins as Tony Jaa searches for his missing elephants and people get the crap beat out of them from Thailand to Australia. Along the way there is a complicated plot about illegal food smugglers and amoral businesses and gang rivalries, but the plot is the least of our worries. Because Tom-Yum-Goong (or The Protector if you’re watching the American version) is the film that features a 4 minute long single take of Tony Jaa fighting his way up several flights of stairs with goons all the way. It is, quite simply, one of the most amazing fight sequences in cinema.
Tom-Yum-Goong is the followup to Ong Bak, the film that put Tony Jaa and Prachya Pinkaew on the international map. Jaa and Pinkaew would have on set troubles in all subsequent films, with the two feuding about funding and unexplained absences. Ong Bak 2, Ong Bak 3, and Tom Yum Goong 2 would all have various production problems and delays, with causes ranging from the aforementioned arguing to political strife to disastrous flooding to a marriage and a pregnancy!
Whatever future events would be, the fact is that everything aligned to make Tom-Yum-Goong an amazing action film. The choreography is amazing, Tony Jaa pulls off a huge assortment of stunts and once he gets going, will fight what amounts to a ridiculous amount of opponents on his quest to rescue his elephants. We don’t even see the beginning shot, we just see the bodyguard fly into the room to signify that Kham and begun to beat everyone up. That was an editing choice, as the initial punches were filmed, but it works so much better to have the sudden crash. Tom-Yum-Goong is filled with creativity, from the fight up the stairway that just goes on and on to the fights in a flooded temple that is visually stunning. The villains have at their disposal a near limitless amount of goons on extreme sports equipment, from inline skates to dirt bikes, all of which come riding in to beat the tar out of Kham, and all of which fail miserably. Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai even developed a new style of Muay Thai they called Muay Koshasan to represent an elephant fighting style. The attention to little details that have a big impact to make the film look unique is all part of the charm.
Kham (Tony Jaa) – He’s just a dude looking for his elephants.
Sergeant Mark (Petchtai Wongkamlao) – A Thai cop in Australia who is tangled in not only the Kham beating everyone up mess, but also a corrupt cop mess and a political killings mess. It’s very messy to be Sergeant Mark!
Pla (Bongkoj Khongmalai) – A student turned prostitute who is forced to replay the debt of her dead relative or else she’ll be killed or worse. Helps Kham when she can. Is caught up in some political assassin intrigue, but is largely in the film for eye candy, hence her featured scene where she’s rubbing mud all over herself while wearing little clothing. Bongkoj Khongmalai is also in Dangerous Flowers.
Madame Rose (Xing Jin) – Ascending to the head of a criminal empire is hard when even your family is against you. Luckily for Madame Rose, she’s planned ahead, and just might have a few less relatives to deal with. Think of all the money she’ll save on greeting cards! It’s almost enough to buy some black market elephants…
Korn (???) – Baby elephant from a Jatubaht warrior family that’s stolen along with his father, Por Yai. Kham sets out to save them from their dark fate.
Media for the upcoming Tom Yum Goong 2 has begun appearing online. First up was a first trailer, followed by the above-embedded second teaser. In addition, the Tom Yum Goong 2 facebook page has been posting character posters, which are posted below. There are posters for Tony Jaa as Kham, Jija Yanin as Pingping (who uses flying needles), Petchai Wongkamlao as Sgt. Mark, Ying Ratha as No. 20, RZA as Mr. LC, and Marrese Crump as No. II. The stunts look amazing, and I hope this troubled production pulls together and turns into something magical. Really pulling for this one.
2011 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.
Charlie’s Angels left a legacy of countless imitators. The original series spawned many copycats, and the recent movies also spawned copies. As the new movies decided to be action comedies, so did many of the copycat movies. And since the new movies decided to not be very good, the copycats decided to one-up them and be even worse! One of those copies is reviewed here today. The 2006 film from Thailand was originally entitled Chai Lais or Chai Lais Angels, and eventually became known as Dangerous Flowers. I wonder what the “Chai Lai” trying to sound like… Charlie’s Angels copies from Asia are vary common, we even reviewed Asian Charlie’s Angels a while back. We get five beautiful Thai women who fight crime, fail at their missions, and blow stuff up. The film begs you to not take it seriously, yet then throws in a few people getting killed violently just to screw with you.
The film has a few quirks in the subtitles, firstly they refer to the girls as “chai Lais”, notice how the first letter of chai is not capitalized. It never is, but the L in Lai is always capitalized. I don’t know what that means, but it probably means something stupid. So we’ll got with it for the entire review. Take that, bad subtitles!
We got five Angels, excuse me, FLOWERS, who we will just hit the Roll Call for now, as well as the peripheral characters. The film is forgettable, unexceptional, and nothing you haven’t seen before. Unless you are blind, in which case you probably aren’t reading this anyway. Or are you?
Kulap/Goolab CODENAME: Rose (Bongkoj Khongmalai) – chai Lai agent, the rich fashionable one. Is dating a guy named Gud, who is pretty good, good enough to become her fiancée. Affectionately known as Tuk, Bongkoj Khongmalai holds the number 10 spot as FHM Thailand’s sexiest lady. She starred in Tom Yum Goong and was embroiled in a naked picture scandal which wasn’t that big of a deal as the actual nudes weren’t released so don’t waste your Google time.
Bua CODENAME: Lotus (Supaksorn Chaimongkol) – Supaksorn Chaimongkol is nicknamed Kratae (which means chipmunk – are there even chipmunks in Thailand?) Voted number 11 on FHM Thailand’s sexiest woman list. So we only have numbers 10 and 11 in this film? Totally lame!
Chaba CODENAME: Hibiscus (Jintara Poonlarp) – The ugly chai Lai. We aren’t calling her this, the film treats her like it’s an amazing achievement she gets a boyfriend. Totally lame, Thailand. Jintara Poonlarp is a famous luk tung singer. In fact, she’s my favorite luk tung singer. And that’s not just because she’s the only luk tung singer I know.
Pouy-sian CODENAME: Crown of Thorns (Kessarin Ektawatkul) – Every other flower name the subtitles translate into common names, but as Pouy-sian’s flower’s name is Crown of Thorns, the subtitles opt for laziness and leave her as Pouy-sian. Lame. Kessarin Ektawatkul is Thailand’s former National Tae Kwon Do Champion, also starred in the remake of Born to Fight.
Na-wua CODENAME: Spadix (Bunyawan Pongsuwan) – Bunyawan Pongsuwan is the only one of the five chai-Lais to not rate a Wikipedia page. Or hardly any Google links. So she is a mystery. I’ll start a rumor that she refuses to eat spinach because she worships it. And if she ever gets a Wikipedia page I’ll just edit that in. No longer a mystery, are you, Pongsuwan?
Tony Jeng (Petchtai Wongkamlao) – The chai Lais’ handler is the Bosley guy of our group, probably named Tony Jeng but I’m not 100% because these subtitles were wack. The Charlie he works for is probably named Mr. Somsak, which also sounds lame and he’s only voiced in like once, so what’s the point? Tony Jeng wears a different wig in every scene he’s in, which might be a weak attempt at a running gag. Petchtai Wongkamlao is better known as Mum Jokmok, but of course you knew that.
King Kong (Wanasak Srilar) – More than meets the eye, if you catch my drift. If you don’t catch my drift, she’s got a wang, you dolt! King Kong ain’t got nothing on me! ‘Twas beauty killed the beast.
Miki (?????) – Daughter of the Keeper of the Pearl, kidnapped by Dragon because she knows the location of the pearl. Eventually joins the chai Lais thanks to the lack of minor labor laws in Thailand. But it beats being sold into sex slavery.
Ms. Mei Ling (????) – married to Miki’s father despite keeping her Chinese last name and also being evil. I dunno if she was still married but it looked like it in the beginning. So do a background check on your wife, people. She may be an evil henchwoman looking for a magical pearl that only you know the location of.
Dragon (???) – The evil boss who gets mad all the time, dresses in suits that were only in style around 1985, and has a son with Downs syndrome that doesn’t even factor into the plot about trying to find a valuable pearl. Talk about your missed opportunities to give him motivation.
Kathleen (Salani Chachacha?) – Crazy assistant to King Kong, cross-eyed and bad aim. Dresses like a blind hooker in Paris Hilton’s retro closet. Secretly a good agent, because the script said so. Or something. I don’t care.