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.
Some news concerning “Jeeja” Yanin Vismitananda that may be of interest:
The biggest news currently is Jeeja costarring with Tony Jaa in Tom-Yum-Goong 2, which will be in 3D. All the familiar faces were at the news conference, director Prachya Pinkaew, action choreographer Panna Rittikrai, costar Petthai “Mum Jokmok” Wongkumlao, and studio executive Somsak “Sia Jiang” Techaratanaprasert,
Jeeja will also be headlining a 3D sequel to Chocolate Hiroshi Abe will also be returning, and it will be directed again by Prachya Pinkaew, who seems to be directing everything ever.
And finally, here’s a trailer for the bicycle messenger comedy Jakkalan, which hit theaters in Thailand April 28th. It’s directed by and costars Mum Jokmok, who was in the first Tom-Yum-Goong
I had meant to get these films up on individual entries, but kept putting it off and off so now we get a giant post. And, yes, these films will get the full review treatment once they start showing up in a format I can see them.