Cinema Review: The Protector 2 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Protector 2

Studio: Magnet
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew

May 02, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Khom is a simple villager/Muay Thai expert whose elephant gets kidnapped by terrorists this time (instead of gangsters.) The Protector 2 is like the first one, but much worse.

Martial arts films find themselves at a crossroads in the current cinema landscape. With studios pouring billions of dollars annually into effects-heavy, super-heroic action films, there seems to be little room for movies about guys punching and kicking each other into submission. The most recent success story in the genre is writer/director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais’ The Raid series, which has broken new ground via its ingenious fight choreography, dynamic camera work and uncompromising violence. The last director/actor team to come close to those heights was Prachya Pinkaew and Tony Jaa with their films, Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior and Tom-Yum-Goong, which retitled stateside as The Protector. They’ve reunited after nearly a decade apart and the result is The Protector 2, a film that took all the wrong lessons from the intervening years.

Pinkaew and Jaa turned heads with their first two films by turning their limitations into attractions: no wire-work and no computer effects. All the stunts and fights were performed live and on camera by the actors and choreographers. The Protector 2 elbow strikes that philosophy into oblivion within it’s first few minutes and features more cheesy explosions, green-screened stunts and absurd 3-D pandering than a Resident Evil movie. The practical fights that are featured are watered-down rehashes of their earlier work, stitched together by quick, choppy edits that seem desperate to mask the seams. There’s no sense of awe at the stunts being performed and no feeling of weight behind any of the blows.

Tony Jaa is still baby-faced and convincingly earnest at 38, but the overbearing editing and heavy use of CGI makes one wonder if he’s lost his step. The only time he truly shines is in his two showdowns with lead heavy Marrese Crump, whose slick, vicious style forces Jaa to bring his A-game. Wasted is Yanin Vismitananda, the female martial artist of Pinkaew’s 2008 Muay Thai film, Chocolate, who barely registers as a combatant, let alone a character. RZA is also on hand as the lead terrorist and somehow makes a more convincing martial artist than he does an actor. That the entire film is essentially a tired retread of the first installment only makes it harder to sit through. Do yourself a favor and stick with the original.

Author rating: 1.5/10

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