|The Protector (2005)|
|Writers:||Prachya Pinkaew, Kongdej Jaturanrasamee, Napalee, Piyaros Thongdee, and Joe Wannapin|
|Starring:||Tony Jaa, Nathan Jones, Petchtai Wongkamlao, and Jon Foo|
As an action spectacle, The Protector is hard to beat. However, much like Ong Bak, if you judge the film under the standards of being a regular movie, it does teeter towards failure. The drama and the narrative is far from being anything that will draw audiences in. Featuring a plot that both meanders at times and also repeats much of the same genre-film pastiches that we have all seen a million times, this one doesn’t leave a lot to write home about. The basic plot for the story is actually quite similar to Ong Bak. The plot should sound familiar: a smalltown Thai kid is sent off into the world to return a prized possession to his village. The only difference is that in Ong Bak we were talking about a material item, and this time Jaa is out in search of an elephant – which, on the surface, sounds like a silly plot synopsis, but it is effectively played very straight. Along the way he will become embroiled in a series of crazy events that become convoluted and ridiculous along the way. Is it interesting? Kinda, but nothing spectacular. The foreign setting doesn’t help with things, since the Thai view of Australia is, to me personally, far less intriguing than getting to see Thailand itself.
At just around the forty minute mark, The Proector hits its most deliriously creative note. In a sequence that will not be forgotten anytime soon, we watch as Tony Jaa travels up a very large spiraling staircase and then dispatches of goon-after-goon, all while the camera follows him without making one cut. For the action genre, this sequence is akin to the long opening shot from A Touch fo Evil. The camera flows through the corridors while Jaa and his stuntmen all work in a seamless fashion to choreograph some of the most brutal action within the movie – and they do all of this without the safety net of editing. Everything must be done correctly, and they have only one take to do it. Men are thrown off of three story high balconies, the camera pans and travels around rooms while the filmmakers cleverly hide the setups that are taking place just outside of frame in order to protect the stuntmen and crew… It plays out like a brilliant magic act, and it truly does “make the movie.” However, this film isn’t done yet. There’s still half of a movie to go! With numerous fight sequences ahead, the question becomes “did the movie blow its wad too early, or can it make on the promise of that one utterly brilliant sequence?”