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The Protector

by Nate Eckstrom

When Steve “Stone Cold” Austin lifts an adolescent elephant (that’s right, an adolescent elephant) off the ground to deliver a bestial version of his patented stone-cold stunner, it’s hard to believe that no animals were harmed in the making of this movie. The Protector, playing now at Sunshine Landmark Theaters, stars Tony Jaa as a country boy out for vengeance against his elephant's kidnappers. Jaa, who is Thailand’s answer to Bruce Lee, wordlessly fights his way through the streets of Bangkok, over the ocean to Australia and into the dark corners of Sydney.

Quentin Tarantino produced this exciting, if sometimes laughable, martial arts flick. You can see where he might have had some influence on the direction as well. There’s a breath-taking ten minute continuous action shot, starting from the ground floor of a gambling den and moving up through floor after floor of bad guys, straight out of the Kill Bill movies. Tony Jaa is visibly tiring at the end of this incredible feat of choreography and sheer endurance. It’s probably the best reason to see the movie.

Jaa is a martial arts hero in Thailand, the country that specializes in a particularly violent and brutal form called Muay Thai. His earlier film, Ong Bak, celebrated Thai traditions, and featured an evil gang boss bent on beheading and collecting all the Buddha statues in Thailand. The Protector continues the theme without really altering it. If anything this one is flimsier and less convincing.

Don’t worry though. If you want to see some unique Muay Thai style kicking, punching and head-bashing, this is your movie.


2 Bialys out of 4

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