The Protector: Never Mock a Man with a Red Scarf If He Asks You about Elephants
And that is about as much plot as you'll get as The Protector revs into high gear and sets off on a roller coaster ride of martial arts mayhem. The story will pop up again as the action unfolds, but only long enough to send you careening into the next action sequence. If you are a fan of martial arts, this won't bother you a bit. Tony Jaa is amazing on screen as he dispatches a seemingly endless supply of nameless villains in scene after scene. It is all the more spectacular when you realize that there is no wire work, no CGI and no stunt doubles. The crowning achievement is a four minute, non-stop, unedited action sequence that has Kham fighting his way up a four story staircase.
The Protector was originally released in Asia in 2005 under the title Tom-Yum-Goong. The version being shown to American audiences has been cut by nearly 30 minutes. The original soundtrack has been supplemented by RZA, founder of the hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Also, the movie has been endorsed by Quentin Tarantino and is presented by him in the opening credits.
So, what can we learn from The Protector and Tony Jaa? Well, apart from a stunning number of ways to snap a human limb like a twig, he does demonstrate an astounding degree of devotion to his calling. He fearlessly presses on no matter how insurmountable the odds seem to be. And it is clear that he has spent many, many hours learning the skills necessary to excel at his art. While I don't think many of us will be engaged in a hunt for stolen elephants or confronted by an army of Asian gangsters, it probably wouldn't hurt us to consider applying these same traits to the more mundane problems we encounter as we journey through life.
Should you see The Protector? If you have an interest in the martial arts, you won't want to miss it. On the other hand if you're not already a fan, there really isn't enough of a story here to hook you. The attraction isn't the depth of the storytelling, but the physical artistry of highly skilled warriors captured on the big screen.