Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Tony Jaa, RZA, Mum Jokmok, Marrese Crump, Jija Yanin Wismitanan, Ratha Pho-ngam, Kazu Patric Tang, Kalp Hongratanaporn, David Ismalone
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Violence and Some Coarse Language)
Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East Pictures
Opening Day: 7 November 2013
Synopsis: Boss Suchart is the influential owner of a major elephant camp. When he was murdered in his own home – the killer delivered three fatal blows on his body – all evidence points to KHAM (Tony Jaa), who was present at the crime scene and was seen with the victim the moment before he died. Kham is forced to run as the police launches a pursuit. Meanwhile, the twin nieces of Boss Suchart (Jija Yanin Wismitanan and Teerada Kittisiriprasert) are out for revenge. But luck is on Kham’s side when he runs into Sergeant MARK (Mum Jokmok), an Interpol agent sent to Thailand on a secret mission. As Kham is hunted by several parties, he’s also desperately searching for KHON, his elephant, whose disappearance is involved with Boss Suchart’s death. In another twist, Kham is drawn into an underground fighting ring run by LC (RZA), a crime lord who’s obsessed with collecting top-class martial artists from around the world. LC’s fighters are branded only by numbers, such as the lethal, beautiful TWENTY (Ratha Pho-ngam) and the diabolical NO.2 (Marrese Crump). These fighters are ordered to defeat and capture Kham for a special mission that LC has in mind. A sequel of the global smash-hit “Tom Yam Goong” (or “The Protector”), TYG2 is an extreme fight movie, an endlessly intense, nerve-racking film full of fists, elbows, kicks and daredevil stunt scenes and amazingly choreographed fighting moves that will pump hot blood through the body of all action fans!
After suffering a bizarre meltdown during the production of Ong Bak 3, Thai action star Tony Jaa is back to kick some serious asses once again.
Eight years have passed since the original Tom Yum Goong aka The Protector, while you might expect a stronger plotline and featuring more death-defying stunts in the sequel, Jaa’s mentor and director Prachya Pinkaew and his writer Ekasith Thairathis contend in giving the audience the same old concoction and recipe if not worse treatment than before.
Jaa’s Kham, the protector of war elephants is embroiled in a murder case after the disappearance of his elephant Khon. Kham is being framed for the death of the owner of the elephant camp when he happened to stumble onto the crime scene. Believing Kham to be the murderer, the twin nieces (one being Jija Yanin from Chocolate) of the dead owner seeks revenge. With the twins and a mysterious evil crime lord LC (RZA) hot on Kham’s heels, will he survive the ordeal and recover his lost elephant?
Let’s see there’s a terrorist plot involving a fictional country called Katana in addition. There’s a lost elephant. And there’s an African-American baddie played by RZA and hell lots of noise, a nice nod to the hardworking Foley department. To sum it, Tony Jaa’s Kham always loses his beloved elephant and he always end up confronting and fending off the bad guys. The first Tom Yum Goong was a certain Madam Rose and here is LC, a ruthless arms dealer. I guess no one will bother to mind the unnecessarily confusing plotting so long as there’s a decent amount of action onscreen.
Tom Yum Goong 2 for all it matter showcased hell lot of fighting; some nifty executed while many throws in lots of dodgy CGI to amplify things. The first major sequence involves a motorcycle gang chasing Kham along a highway, alley and bridge. This is one big sequence given its staged on a much bigger scale than all the stunts its predecessor has. Big doesn’t mean it’s good. Majority of the fights are hindered by poorly done CGI such as obviously fake background, fake explosions, fake flames and clumsily edited shots. Comparing all these to the first with merely consists of gritty, well-executed choreography and daredevil stunts; this is a plain insult to Jaa’s abilities. Remember the uncut 4 minutes sequence where he fought his way up a building? Disappointingly, we have none of these memorable acts here.
For the price of one ticket, Sahamongkol Film finally had their two most famous action stars, Jaa and Jija together in one movie and I must admit it’s pretty exhilarating to watch the two in action at first though I must add Jija’s character is weakly written and served more of a flagging extended cameo than anything. End of the day, it’s a Tony Jaa’s movie after all and he continues to demonstrate his agility and Muay Thai moves. Yet the numerous sparring between the good and bad do get tedious and repetitive and we are wondering when Tom Yum Goong gets to shed off some of its self-seriousness for good.
Fortunately, the always funny Mum Jokmok returns as Sergeant Mark, Kham’s old friend who is an Interpol agent. His on and off appearances mark some funny moments and exchanges especially one in regard to Kham’s lost elephant that got all of us crack up. For more unintentional laughter, fans of Star Wars might want to take note of some ridiculous usage of lightsaber sound effects when Kham and LC’s No.2 tough guy (Marrese Gump) fights along an underground electrified railway line.
Ditching Australia (the first was partly shot in Sydney) for yet another adventure in Thailand, Tom Yum Goong 2 proves that Tony Jaa hasn’t lost his mojo. Everything is déjà vu all over again. While Jaa is currently in a contractual dispute with Sahamongkol Film, we can at least look forward to his return to the big screen opposite Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious 7. Say goodbye to Tom Yum Goong and Ong Bak for the time being, our Protector is going places likely without his elephant though.
(Tom Yum Goong 2 remains the same old recipe if not a worse sequel)
Review by Linus Tee