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The Protector

Year: 2005
Production Co: Sahamongkolfilm Co
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Tony Jaa
Ong Bak was all Tony Jaa's show, but director Prachya Pinkaew employs some incredible visual style here, and not just in the soft focus flashback sequences, but (for example) the incredible, four-minute long scene where Kham (Jaa) infiltrates the inner sanctum of the restaurant run by the Thai mafia. It's a multi-storey cathouse populated by rich clients and an endless string of heavies and is all done in a single steady-cam shot up multiple flights of stairs and with incredible stunt work in a blistering series of fights as Kham chops and socks his way to the top.

Despite the 'Quentin Tarantino presents' above the title, it pretty much bombed at the box office, whereas Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior was the little film that could, not really coming out of the gate with any international intentions but storming screens anyway.

Jaa is a Chan/Lee-alike in playing the same guy, this time travelling to Australia to rescue his family elephant (it sounds ridiculous, and when he storms into various enemy strongholds and demands in a loud voice 'where's my elephant?' you realise it is), which has been kidnapped by poachers.

He comes up against a ruthless crime boss, a woman with a private army who'll throw them all at Kham to run him down. But teaming up with a local Thai cop, he cuts his way through the lot, including the climatic fight between Jaa and what must be the five biggest guys in Australia.

Entertaining and with some great technical and visual flourishes, it deserved a better reception than it got but will undoubtedly enjoy a new lease of life on DVD.

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