HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Protector 2
HTS Overall Score:72
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy, how the mighty have fallen. Tony Jaa revolutionized the martial arts world with his break out film “Ong Bak,” and outdid himself with this film’s prequel “The protector”, which features some of the best single shot martial arts sequences known to man. The winding staircase battle is known as one of the longest action shots filmed in ONE cut. Even his later films were still good, but now, after almost a decade of silence, he’s back again with a travesty that truly breaks my heart as a martial arts nut. Full of clichés, bad acting and horrible choreography, “The Protector 2” not only is Tony Jaa’s worst films, but one of the worst martial arts movies I’ve seen in a VERY long time.
It seems that Tony Jaa just can’t keep track of his elephant, Khon. When we last saw his character Kham, from the first film, the man and his elephant had been reunited at last and were on their way back to Thailand. Picking up right where the first film left off, we see the two back home again and seemingly happy, but with most happy stories, there is a dark cloud on the horizon. A businessman makes Kham a very lucrative offer for his elephant, which is promptly turned down. However, Khon is stolen later that night, which sets Kham back on track for another trail of bodies as he seeks his revenge on the thieves along with the reacquisition of his elephant.
Kham follows his nose back to the businessman who made him the original offer, only to find him dead in his estate. Believed to be the murderer, Kham is pursued by the Thai police as well as the businessman’s two nieces (one of whom is played by the fantastic Jeeja Yanin, whom you may recognize as the star from “Chocolate” and “Raging Phoenix”) as Kham tries to find out who is responsible for the kidnapping. Attacked by street thugs and lowlifes, he works his way up the criminal ladder of filth and finally comes face to face with his nemesis, a man by the name of L.C. (The RZA). It seems that L.C. is planning something much bigger and will utilize Kham’s enormous fighting skills to work for his organization of hired thugs and assassins. Now Kham has to find a way to defeat the plethora of thugs at L.C.’s disposal as well as reclaim Khon back from the criminal mastermind.
I’m honestly not sure what I just watched. I love Tony Jaa, and his earlier films brought in a whole new era of martial arts movies that films like “The Raid” and “The Raid 2” have only Tony to thank for their acceptance. His skills as a traditional Muay Thai martial artist are unparalled, and his work with Prachya Pinkaew has been absolutely incredible. However, this debacle of a film just reeks of laziness and not caring. While a bad movie is something to wince at, a bad martial arts movie is just really AWFUL to chug through. I was hoping for a decent film, even if it didn’t live up to the original, but this seems more like a parody of Tony Jaa rather than an actual attempt at a sequel. It felt like Tony Jaa just slept walked through the entire process, as his fight scenes are poorly done and don’t even REMOTELY tap into the incredible talent he has at his disposal. To make it worse, the choreography is so bad at times that you can actual see the stunt man (or woman) waiting for the next move to come so they could perform their part of the dance.
Shot in native 3D for some bizarre reason, “The Protector 2” is chock full of all the wrong type of 3D stunts, with camera pop out moments left and right, with rocks, explosions, fist and even feet popping out at the viewer in such obvious ways that it might as well have been carrying a sign saying “look at me!”. Tony Jaa has never needed to use copious wire work or CGI in his films before, but this time they’re overused in embarrassing ways. Many of the pop out moments are gratuitous and poorly rendered CGI devices that look awkward and about as fake as you can get. Even the stunts are faked with CGI so much that I felt embarrassed for Tony. You can obviously see the characters superimposed over another image to make it LOOK like they are doing some death defying sequence, and the scene with Tony Jaa jumping across a racing train is so badly done that I almost turned the movie off so I could take a break. Add into the mix a stupidly sped up camera during fight scenes, which was incredibly unnecessary with the caliber of martial arts talent on display, and you have a train wreck of a film that even Tony Jaa couldn’t save. It almost felt as if he was pasted in there from another movie, or was just collecting a paycheck, because this is about as far from the legendary entertainment he’s known for as one can get. Not to discount the awful performance by the RZA though, as this man turns in a role that proves just why he shouldn't ever be allowed near another acting gig. The RZA is a known guru of Kung fu cinema history and knowledge, but an actor he is not.
Rated R for violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=23633[/img]The 2.39:1 AVC encode is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum as the film itself is. Instead of a lackluster performance the encode looks simply superb, with just a few complaint scenes. The colors are saturated with a nice golden “Thai” hue and well-colored throughout. The beautiful Thai scenery is eye candy, and even the slums of the big city look solid. Detail is simply superb as you can see every drop of sweat from Tony’s brow and the dirt and grime that cakes his battle laden body. Contrasts are well within reason and skin tones are very natural. Black levels are great for the most part, but during some really black scenes the digital image suffers from swarming noise, due to the low lighting conditions. There’s no banding, or any other digital anomalies except for the poor CGI scenes, but that’s not a fault of the encode, but rather the production design.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=23641[/img]“The Protector 2” is sporting a pair of DTS-HD MA 5.1 tracks, both in Thai and in English. Either track is pretty interchangeable in terms of quality, but the That 5.1 track sounds a lot better and more accurate than the poor dubbing. Aggressive and powerful the 5.1 DTS-HD MA tracks deliver on the goods in terms of audio. Every bone crunching blow can be felt as the impact is reverberating through the LFE channel. Surrounds are used heavily as Kham battles amidst a street gang on motorcycles and each spin kick is run through all channels with emphasis. Dialogue is clean and powerful with no imbalance with the rest of the track. LFE is ridiculously strong and makes the entire experience that much more visceral and impactful. Between the audio and the stellar video it’s hard to say which one is the best part of the disc.
• Behind the Scenes Featurettes
- Cast and Characters
- Speaking with the Director
- Action and Stunts
- Working in 3D
• axsTV: A Look at The Protector 2
I don’t honestly think I’ve rated a movie this low on HTS. I always look for the good in a film, for someone out there surely can get entertainment out of it, even one I don’t particularly care for. I have to say that this breaks my heart, as I’m an avid martial arts fan and absolutely adore bad movies with great fights. Sadly, “The Protector 2” is the worst kind of martial arts film, filled with bad fights, bad choreography, bad acting, and no soul whatsoever. The audio and video presentation are quite excellent, but that in no way makes up for this travesty. RUN from this film as fast as possible.
Starring: Tony Jaa, The RZA, JeeJa Yanin
Directed by: Prachya Pinkaew
Written by: Eakasit Thairatana
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Thai: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Blu-ray Release Date: July 29th, 2014
Buy The Protector 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy The Protector 2 3D Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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