While Tony Jaa burst onto the scene and took the martial arts film world by storm with his Ong Bak trilogy, that wasn’t his only foray into the action world. In between Ong Bak films he released another awesome film in 2005s The Protector aka Tom yum goong. Now he has returned to the role and in hopes to bring more of his high octane action style in the aptly titled The Protector 2, but this time he is bringing along Chocolate star JeeJa Yanin, Marrese Crump, and RZA, but can it live up to the legacy he has already laid out or will this be a fight he can’t win?
The Protector 2 follows Kham on the run after the owner of a major elephant camp is murdered and he is the prime suspect. Now he is 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. One of the issues with delivering so many awesome martial arts films is that it becomes harder to step it up. With this film they originally released it as a 3D film and it shows despite seeing it in 2D. There are numerous shots that are clearly focusing on the 3D aspect with things flying towards the camera that is a bit distracting mostly due to the not so great CGI. While the first half of the film still sports plenty of action that is a lot of fun, the obvious CGI and sometime wirework was just unexpected for a Jaa film. Thankfully the second half of the film steps things up quite a bit and bring more of what fans have come to expect. Sure there are still some over the top and sometime silly directions to the fights including one suing electricity and light saber sound effects, but they still work. To be fair anyone watching these films are usually just doing it for the action and there is plenty of it. Each action sequence is longer than the previous one and steadily get better. At first it seemed like the action had been slowed down, but within some of the final fight scenes Jaa finds his grove and delivers everything thing fans expect. JeeJa Yanin is given plenty of her own time to shine, but it’s Marrese Crump who seems to really be the force to reckon with his terminator like unstoppable nature. RZA delivers an over the top performance that is silly at times, but he is clearly having so much fun channeling the classic kung fu villains of the 70s it works.
They take the famous flaming foot fighting that Jaa likes to do to another level, but would have been a lot cooler had they not used so much CGI to make it work, but of course it would have probably killed someone so you can let it go. While this isn’t the best of his films to date it does show a growth in the filmmaking and direction that shows his growth as an actor. This one has a definitive ending, but it would still be great to see Jaa and his elephant back in action with this character again someday. In addition to this explosive martial arts film this Blu-ray also features featurettes, trailers, and more that is sure to be a must have for Tony Jaa fans. Join the all new quest to save his elephant when The Protector 2 hits 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on July 29th.