The Protector (Tom Yum Goong) (2005)

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Released 15-Aug-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Martial Arts Audio Commentary-Bey Logan (martial arts expert)
Deleted Scenes
Short Film-3 short films
Trailer
Featurette-Making Of-No Wires Attached: Making The Protector
Featurette-Making Of-The Making Of "Tom Yum Goong"
Featurette-The Director's Guided Tour: The Stairwell Fight Sequence
Featurette-Making Tony Jaa
Featurette-The Protector Soundtrack Promo
Short Film-"8 Limbs" Mobisode
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 106:06
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (86:11)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Prachya Pinkaew
Studio
Distributor
The Weinstein Co.
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tony Jaa
Petchtai Wongkamlao
Bongkoj Khongmalai
Xing Jing
Nathan Jones
Johnny Nguyen
Lateef Crowder
Jon Foo
Damian De Montemas
David Asavanond
Sotorn Rungruaeng
Amonphan Gongtragan
Nutdanai Kong
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI ? Music Howard Drossin


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Kham (Ong Bak's Tony Jaa) lives a peaceful life in rural Thailand, that is until two elephants who are practically members of his family are stolen by organised criminals and smuggled to Australia. After arriving in Sydney, Kham accidentally hooks up with a Thai-born Australian policeman named Mark (another Ong Bak alumnus, Petchtai Wongkamlao) and embarks on a crusade to rescue his elephants from the evil Thai gangster Madame Rose and her evil henchmen (who include Australian strongman, come wrestler, Nathan Jones).

    The plot is little more than an excuse to show baby elephants and get into some top shelf martial arts, particularly the Muay Thai that Tony Jaa is best known for. The fights on offer are beautifully choreographed, particularly an extended single-take sequence around an elaborate circular stairway in a restaurant belonging to the baddies. The camera work and editing is a little rough in places, particularly for martial arts fans used to the smoother look of most Hong Kong martial arts films, but it adequately captures the daredevil stunts and flashy fights.

    The Protector received a reasonable degree of fanfare upon its US release but failed to strike a chord with a mainstream audience in the manner the newly formed Weinstein Company had banked on. (Warning: sarcasm ahead!) Surely retitling it from Tom Yum Goong to something a lot more generic and slapping Quentin Tarantino Presents above the title should have made a hit! Though it was hardly a surprise to many fans, many of whom had probably imported it on DVD when it was released in Asia (about 9 months prior to its US cinema release), the middling American theatrical performance was unfortunately enough to prevent a theatrical release in Australia (despite the big Australian connection in the movie). At least the film was successful enough to justify the Weinsteins putting together a fairly solid DVD release, as it is a film well worth watching.

    The Protector was heavily cut by the Weinstein Company for its US theatrical release, from 108 minutes down to 81 minutes, which possibly contributed to its theatrical failure as the cuts mainly take out a lot of character development and plot. There really isn't anything that can be said in favour of the Weinstein cut of the movie. The US cut purposefully attempted to change the tone of the film from a Jackie Chan-esque light-hearted action movie to something much more dark and serious. The cuts also cause several scenes and plot turns making no sense at all, leaving the audience to guess what is going on. Some of the action scenes have been re-cut also, which occasionally leaves them a bit choppy or looking rushed. Many of the characters have been re-dubbed, even some of the Australian cast, many now feature out-of-place American accents (come on, a Thai-born Australian police detective with a perfectly spoken Texan drawl?). The film has been re-scored by the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA for the Weinstein cut, replacing a big orchestral score with a messy hybrid of rock, hip hop and a traditional orchestral score. The new score isn't terrible but it frequently overpowers the fight scenes, practically turning them into music videos and gutting them of their impact. Thankfully this DVD edition features both the original Thai and US cuts of the film, one version on each of the discs in the set, as the woefully US cut should be avoided if possible.

    The original cut is certainly not perfect, and perhaps needed to be tightened up by a couple of minutes, but it makes for great viewing. The comic relief and story aspects that were excised from the US cut turn the movie into a well rounded action-comedy.

    Athough it has taken far to long to reach our shores, and there is a jumble of versions within this set, The Protector is an action packed ride that deserves a spot on the shelves of any fan of action movies.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Both cuts of the film are presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, slightly fuller than the film's original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and are 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer of each cut of the film is quite good, but the original cut certainly looks the better of the two.

    Both cuts look reasonably sharp. Parts of the film employ an unusual look whereby the centre of the image is very sharp and the outer edges lose focus rapidly, in a circular pattern. This look has transferred accurately to DVD, and has not introduced any unwanted video artefacts, although I am not convinced it is a particularly good look when it is used.

    The level of grain visible changes noticeably between shots, and is a bit distracting during a rather long, dimly lit, battle inside a temple that occurs about three quarters of the way through the movie. The grain appears to be an issue with the film itself rather than anything introduced by the DVD transfer. The grain in the US cut is noticeably coarser than the original cut.

    The colour palette varies in much the same way as the level of grain throughout the film, though it is not as noticeable. Some scenes appear a little washed out, whereas others (such as the grainy temple fight mentioned previously) are a little on the orange side. The colours appear as though they accurately reflect the look of the original film, but the film could have used a better colour balance during post production as changes in colour tend to reflect the ambient light in the different scenes. The contrast on the disc does appear to be decent. Black levels are fairly even and detail in dark areas is quite good.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts visible in either cut. A small number of film artefacts are visible throughout each cut, but not frequently enough to provide a distraction.

    The subtitles in the US cut neither match the dialogue of the English dub or the Thai/English language track. They convey similar meaning, but tell a slightly different story to the language tracks (one that is halfway between the modified US cut story and the story of the original Thai cut). The subtitles are reasonably well timed, however. The subtitles in the original cut are fairly well timed and seem accurate to the story, providing a translation of the meaning of the dialogue rather than a word-for-word translation of the dialogue.

    This both discs are RSDL discs. The layer break occurs at 06:08 in the US version and 86:11 in the original version. Though they occur mid-scene, neither layer break was noticeable on my equipment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The US cut of the film features a combination Thai/English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and a dubbed English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) soundtrack. The original cut features only the original Thai/English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) soundtrack.

    The dialogue for the original cut is quite clear and in good sync. Some of the heavy Thai accents on the English dialogue require particular attention to fully understand. The dialogue on the US cut appears noticeably out of sync throughout, even parts that feature identical dialogue to the original cut that has not been re-dubbed.

    The music in the original cut is a fairly standard traditional score. It fits the film well and is well mixed. The soundtrack to the US cut features a new score by the Wu-Tang Clan's RZA that blends over-the-top rock and hip hop beats with a traditional score. The result is a mess. The music itself isn't bad, but the differing styles are not mixed together particularly well and it doesn't fit the film well. The music on the US cut is far too predominant in the mix and frequently makes the movie seem more like a music video.

    Both cuts of the film feature aggressive use of the surround channels and solid support from the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Audio Commentary by Asian Film Expert Bey Logan

    This commentary covers the US cut only. Bey Logan, who has been providing commentaries on countless martial arts films throughout the life of DVD, provides a moderately interesting but insubstantial commentary for the film. This one really seems to be there just for the sake of having a commentary.

No Wires Attached: Making The Protector Making Of Featurette (14:25)

    A press-kit "Making Of" featurette for the film that spends longer justifying the US cuts and re-scoring by RZA than telling you anything about the actual making of the film.

The Director's Guided Tour: The Stairwell Fight Sequence Featurette (35:09)

    The centrepiece of the movie is undoubtedly a 4 minute single-take fight scene in which Jaa takes on a barrage of bad guys as he makes his way up the majestic circular staircase of a restaurant, come brothel. The fight scene is elaborately choreographed and was evidently not an easy task to shoot. 5 attempts were made to shoot the fight over the course of a month. This featurette presents each attempt along with the director critiquing each take and explaining the ongoing process of perfecting this masterpiece. This featurette is great.

Deleted Scene (2:06)

    One deleted fight scene set in the living room of a house. This fight is actually a bit of sloppy, which is probably why it was cut, but it makes for a moderately interesting extra.

Making Tony Jaa Featurette (6:32)

    Interviews with Tony Jaa and his mentor Panna Rittikrai in which they discuss Jaa's personal development, training and career. It's a bit of a puff piece, but reasonably interesting.

Tony Jaa Martial Arts Demonstration Featurette (2:05)

    A series of short martial arts demonstrations by Tony Jaa. Worth a look, but no terribly exciting stuff is included.

The Making Of "Tom Yum Goong" Featurette (55:41)

    A lengthy Thai "Making Of" featurette with English subtitles. This featurette was produced for the Region 3 release of the film. Whilst the video quality on this featurette is poor and featurette itself is pretty amateur stuff, poorly chopped together and jumping about from topic to topic, the raw nature of it makes it oddly compelling viewing.

"8 Limbs" Mobisode (a cell phone video) Short Film (3:30)

    An abominable animated promo for the film. An poorly animated "Tony Jaa" fights 8 "cool" baddies to demonstrate his awesomeness. The sole goal of this monstrosity seems to be taking a sledgehammer and banging itself into your skull until you think Tony Jaa is EXTREME and AWESOME. This kind of advertising may have attracted a handful of "cool" kids to the cinema, but would have scared off even more.

Short films from the "The Take on Tony Jaa" contest Featurette

    Three short films produced for an online video contest. The films are OK, none features any real story just martial arts fights, but you could easily find more interesting fare on YouTube. The films featured are: FTrain (3:51), Lasershot (6:02) and Prison Warz (8:28).

The Protector Soundtrack Promo Featurette (0:47)

    Shameless advertising for the US version of the movie's soundtrack, by Wu-Tang Clan member RZA.

Theatrical Trailer (1:55)

    The US Theatrical trailer for The Protector. It is a fairly run of the mill action trailer that tries a little too hard to convince viewers of the awesomeness of Tony Jaa.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 edition is identical to the Region 1 edition, except for PAL/NTSC formatting.

    There are numerous editions floating around Region 3, but many do not feature English subtitles (I suspect this has something to do with a restrictive distribution agreement in English-speaking territories) so buyer beware.

Summary

    A great martial arts flick that has been given a commendable DVD treatment. Both the original and US cuts of the film are provided. Avoid the US cut at all costs, but there is plenty in the original cut for all variety of action fans.

    The extras are a bit of a case of quantity over quality, but there is certainly enough there worth watching to make them worthwhile.

    The video quality for both cuts is decent, but is let down by haphazard cinematography. The audio is very good on the original cut, but not as well assembled on the US cut.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Gould (Totally Biolicious!)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony Playstation 3, using HDMI output
Display Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).
Audio DecoderPioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX2016AVS
Speakers150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
My copy falsely claims to have DTS on the theatrical cut - chaossphere