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by Willie Waffle

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The Protector

You know you have bought a ticket to the wrong movie when star Tony Jaa confronts the bad guys, strikes a fight-ready pose and screams, “Where are my elephants?”  You get the impression this scene should be in The Simpsons or South Park rather than a serious action film, and you’d be right, after you got done laughing.     

Set in the modern day, Jaa stars as Cam (press materials spell it Kham, the movie spells it Cam) – part of an ancient Thai warrior clan that raises elephants for the King.  They maintain an important and historical cultural role, but Cam is about to be thrust into a modern day battle unlike any he has ever seen.  When he and his father take their two elephants to the city, mobsters kill his father and take the big beasts to Australia for a nefarious plot.  Now, Jaa wants revenge, and he wants his elephants back!

Can he accomplish his goal in a strange land where the cops are dirty and the mobsters rule with a deadly iron fist? 

I think Jaa is a great martial arts movie star with unlimited potential, but The Protector has been chopped and edited to bits, so much so that the movie almost makes no sense.  Characters appear from nowhere with no purpose, then fail to make another appearance until you have forgotten they were in The Protector in the first place.  Storylines are introduced, disappear and reappear at will.  Finally, we are never really sure what the bad guys are up too and why.  However, director Prachya Pinkaew and Jaa provide some thrilling fight scenes, which may be all that anyone who buys a ticket to the movie cares about. 

We even get a great cameo early in the movie, but it’s not enough for people who like dialogue, story and acting in their films.  The Protector comes down to a repetitive loop of Cam roaming around Sidney, confronting a different bad guy every few minutes, screaming “where are my elephants?”, then proceeding to kick some booty in extended, but mind-blowing fight scenes that get more and more violent until the climactic battle, which could be the most bruising and stomach churning sequence you have ever seen in a movie since Sharon Stone tried to get freaky and naked in Basic Instinct 2.  Sure, the fights scenes are cool, but the movie has no interest in telling a story. 

The dialogue is juvenile and sparse, the story is lost as you see how much of the movie has been edited out, and plot developments are few and far between as each section of cut film hits the floor (the original version was 109 minutes, this one released in America is 86 minutes). 

1 Waffle (Out Of 4)

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