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Tom Yum Goong 2 - Movie Poster
Original Title:
Tom Yum Goong 2

Thailand 2013

Action, Marial Arts

Prachya Pinkaew

Tony Jaa
Yanin "Jeeja" Vismitananda
Petchtai Wongkamlao
Marrese Crump
Yayaying Rhatha Phongam
Theerada Kittisiriprasert
Adinan Buntanaporn

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Tom Yum Goong 2

aka The Protector 2

Story: Kham (Tony Jaa) lives peacefully with his elephant for five years now. When he one day doesn't agree to sell his elephant the animal is kidnapped, though. However, the man who wanted to buy the elephant is already dead. The potential buyer's two nieces, among them Ping-Ping (Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda) take Kham for the murderer, as does the police and Interpol. Kham's old buddy Mark (Mum Jokmok) is also among the investigating team. He is also the only one who helps Kham while everyone else tries to hunt him down. Kham's search for his elephant eventually leads him to weapons dealer LC (RZA), who apparently is weaving a big plot. He wants to hamper the peace negotiations between East and West Katana. Kham has to defend himself against numerous minions of the weapons dealer, among them the number 2 (Marrese Crump) of LC's fighters. Ping-Ping, too, wants to fight Kham until she finds out that actually "Number 2" killed her uncle.

Review: Fortunately, expectations have already been scaled down for this action flick. Martial arts star Tony Jaa hasn't delivered anything breathtaking for a long time already. So why should things change all of a sudden? And in fact nothing changed... "Tom Yum Goong 2" is a sequel that lacks impact. That this would be the case in respect to the story was obvious, but sadly the fight scenes aren't really convincing either. The element of awe and some real innovation is simply missing. Whenever there is an attempt of bringing latter one into the movie things even get ridiculous. Moreover, you oftentimes get the feeling that everyone is just going through the motions without putting their heart into the movie. In the end, "Tom Yum Goong 2" is thus still a disappointment despite scaled down expectations. Especially, since there have been some opportunities that weren't made use of.

Tom Yum Goong 2 - Film Screenshot 11

After all Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin are finally together in a movie. But their fights against each other are completely unspectacular and to make things even worse Jeeja is absolutely neglected by the screenplay. While she could take apart a whole gang in "Chocolate", she barely manages to hold her ground against some minions here. What the hell? And taking a closer look you actually don't even know why she is in the movie at all. Every now and then she tries to give Tony Jaa a helping hand, but in the end it's always her who needs to be rescued. So, maybe Tony Jaa has at least some chance to showcase his skills and make us forget about the bad reviews of "Ong Bak 2" and "Ong Bak 3"? The evident answer to that is: no.

Tom Yum Goong 2 - Film Screenshot 12

Tony Jaa looks somehow tired. Slower and more ponderous. Every now and then he pulls off a move that reminds us of the good old times, but you will still notice the lack of acrobatics. Furthermore, no matter where you look there has been worked in a lot of wire-work and CGI-effects this time. Particularly latter ones are everything but convincing. Also very irritating is the fact that many shots have obviously been done in front of a green screen, which makes the sets look very artificial. Apart from that the filmmakers desperately seem to have been looking for some innovation, but what you ultimately get is a fight in which everyone sets his shoes on fire... Yeah, why exactly is that? Do the kicks become more dangerous that way? Well, there isn't anyone set on fire when being kicked. However, if you think it couldn't possibly get any dumber you should wait for the showdown when the combatants actually deliberately electrify themselves to do more damage. Oh, and by the way, there is accordingly added the sound effects of a lightsaber to the kicks and punches. Yeah, you read that right, lightsaber!

Although Panna Rittikrai is said to have had a hand in the choreography before his dead, there is a lack of good moves no matter where you look. Strangely enough it is Marrese Crump, the villain's right hand, who leaves the biggest impression. He has a strong physical presence and his punches and kicks are powerful. All in all there is nothing special to be seen here, though, or there were desperate attempts to create something awesome through the use of CGI effects and wire-work. But it always goes wrong. RZA plays a one-dimensional villain, but apparently he has fun playing his part and contrary to his appearance in "The Man with the Iron Fists" he even cuts a decent figure in the fights as well. But he simply isn't a martial artist. Petchtai Wongkamlao on the other hand is the comic relief again.

Tom Yum Goong 2 - Film Screenshot 13

Once again the plot doesn't amount to anything. Kham's elephant has been stolen - again! The fact that this is made fun of in the movie as well doesn't make the plot any less sub-par. So what's left at the end? Simply not much! Who doesn't remember the fantastic scene in "Tom Yum Goong" when Tony Jaa fought his way up the stairs of a gangster hideout in one single shot. Just this scene alone deserves to be rewatched more than watching this sequel. Not having put to use Jeeja Yanin adequately is a crime and the fights look uninspired. Therefore, the outtakes during the credits are probably the most entertaining part of the film. There is somewhat of a good pacing, but story, characters and sadly also the action doesn't convince. Maybe Jaa will get out of his crisis in his next movie. But it isn't to be expected anymore.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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