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When the owner of a major elephant camp is murdered, Kham finds himself the number one suspect and on the run from both the police and the deceased's vengeful twin nieces. But luck is on Kham's side when he runs into an Interpol agent sent to Thailand on a secret mission. Written by
Tony Jaa and his elephants are back!!! Is it worth checking out or should you pack your 'trunk' and get outta here??? Read on to find out!
Tony, Tony, Tony What have you been up to? First you entice us with your crazy stunts in Ong Bak and follow up with knockout Tom Yum Goong but then you've really fallen off the radar. The guy literally blasted onto the screen from nowhere and became an instant star in the martial arts world. With Jackie Chan and Jet Li aging and Donnie Yen producing material of inconsistent quality, action fans were hungry for a worthy successor. We thought that person may have been Tony Jaa and it still might be.
Fans of Jaa will know that he had been previously tied into the worst 10-year movie contract ever heard of by Sahamongkol Film International. The contract prevented him from doing any film other than the ones they wanted. Jaa had something of a breakdown and there were even stories that Jaa left the sets of the Ong Bak sequels to go and become a monk in a monastery. The 10 years expired and the guy is now back on the big screen but wait! He signed on again with the same damn production company and they are once again being complete morons! Following recent news that Jaa had signed on to star in the next Fast & Furious movie, Sahamongkol Film once again threatened legal action against Jaa stating that he'd broken his contract by taking on work without their permission. For us lucky movie fans, it looks like Jaa is going ahead with Fast 7 despite this, as well as Hong Kong movie SPL 2 with Wu Jing! Excellent news indeed!
Jaa's movies have always been simple movies reminiscent of Van Damme movies from yesteryear. They have a lot of heart and a lot of ass kicking. In the original Tom Yum Goong (AKA The Protector), Jaa's elephants get kidnapped and brought over to Australia. Jaa goes over and gets them back. Simple! The movie was pretty badass, featuring an amazing one take sequence as Jaa makes his way to the top of a building, taking down loads of bad guys on the way.
There was also a crazy Jaa vs. 50 bad guys sequence towards the end of the movie. It was pretty cool stuff for martial arts fans, especially as Jaa has always looked like he could really do the stuff we see him do in his movies.
In Tom Yum Goong 2, Jaa finds himself in a predicament as his elephant is kidnapped once again, but the agenda is not so simple this time round. Big bad guy Mr. LC (RZA), a martial arts fan, wishes to use the kidnapped elephant to leverage Jaa to do his evil bidding. Jaa must find a way to stop RZA and save his elephant, all while being hunted by what appears to be almost everyone in Thailand.
The premise sounds like the prefect setup for loads of ass kicking and mad stunts just like the original. Unfortunately, despite all the good intentions, the end product just doesn't deliver.
We don't really need a story but some essence of interconnecting events would be nice. The first half of the movie seems to be dominated by a random and ridiculously long drawn out motorbike chase scene, featuring some really terrible CGI. Gone are the real chases and stunts that we saw Jaa performing in Ong Bak, instead we have third-rate special effects and extreme ridiculousness. It doesn't even make any sense why this whole portion of the movie exists but it does.
Surprisingly, Petchtai Wongkamlao as cop sidekick Mark, was probably the best thing in this film. He provided timely comic relief whereas JeeJa Yanin, from Chocolate and Raging Phoenix fame, is shamefully underused and portrayed to be almost useless next to our hero. Rhatha Phongam is also underused, present only to serve as eye candy.
The single worst, most unforgivable element of this movie is RZA (though the other American actors come close). He has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. No on-screen presence, no charisma, terrible acting, terrible fighting, just terrible terrible terrible. I pray that no one ever allows him on a film set ever again or perhaps he should try method acting and really die at the end of his next movie.
So far things are not sounding too good. So how was the fighting? To be honest, it wasn't that great either. After the first half of the movie was dominated by the silly motorbike chase sequence, we would hope the latter half would focus more on the fights. But once the fights begin, we are not given anything that even comes close to spectacle that was seeing Jaa take down 50 guys back to back. There was nothing new and the over use of CGI ultimately reduced everything to a farce. The first fight with Maresse Crump showed potential which was just never fully realized.
It would also have been nice to see Jaa go up against several worthy adversaries instead of a handful of not so great bad guys who just don't seem to be able to die.
All I was hoping for was a competent martial arts movie and at the end of the day, that isn't what we got. Even in the absence of Jaa's original movies, I would not recommend this.
A disappointment from start to finish, I suggest you check out Jaa's earlier efforts and keep your fingers crossed that his US debut will deliver what Tom Yum Goong 2 couldn't.
One to miss and no, I didn't watch it in 3D and can't imagine it would do anything other than make the experience even worse.
Rating 5 out of 10.
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