The Protector (2005) - Two-Disc Ultimate Edition

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Martial Arts
Weinstein Company || R - 81 minutes - $29.95 || January 16, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-01-14


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer(s): Napalee & Piyaros Thongdee & Joe Wannapin & Kongdej Jaturanrasamee (written by); Prachya Pinkaew (story)
Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Xing Jing, Nathan Jones, Johnny Tri Nguyen, Lateef Crowder, Jon Foo


Theatrical Release Date: September 8, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Asian Film Expert Commentary
  • 'No Wires Attached: Making The Protector' Featurette
  • 'Making Tom Yum Goong' Featurette
  • Deleted Fight Scene
  • 'Making Tony Jaa' Featurette
  • Tony Jaa Martial Arts Demonstration
  • The Director's Guild Tour
  • '8 Limbs' Mobisode
  • Short Films from the 'The Take on Tony Jaa' Contest
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen
  • Thai (Dolby Digital 5.1), Thai (DTS 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

The Protector is martial arts sensation Tony Jaa’s second feature length film. His last film, Ong Bak (directed by Prachya Pinkaew, who also directed The Protector), did very well around the world and propelled him into stardom. He has been called the “next Jackie Chan” (Chan himself was called the “next Bruce Lee”) because of his ability to do all his own stunts without wires or special effects. This is obviously the main selling point of Jaa’s films to date and rightfully so. In The Protector, Jaa plays Tham, a man who must go to Australia to get back his elephant that was stolen from him and his family. This may be an odd storyline for American audiences but the Thai people find the elephant a very sacred animal and even consider it the official animal royalty. Like the martial arts films before it, the story only serves as an excuse to show off great action sequences and fight scenes.

Perhaps one of the more amazing fight sequences in the film is a 4 minute uncut sequence in which Jaa takes on 30 men on 4 different floors. The fact that it is a single take is truly amazing. All through out the film, Jaa shows off his great martial arts ability as well as some amazing stunts. Only in foreign markets would a lead actor of a film be able to perform some of the stunts that Jaa does in this film. While the story may be lacking, fans of Tony Jaa and his previous film Ong Bak will definitely enjoy The Protector for its amazing action sequences and fight choreography.


The DVD also includes an uncut edition of the film that runs about 27 minutes longer. The added footage does add more to Jaa’s character development, his motivations as well as some more detail with minor characters. We see more footage of Tham as a child with his elephant as well as some extended sequences we already see in the theatrical edition. Most of the added scenes come in the first 1/3 or so of the film. For the most part, all the major fight scenes are identical with a few shots added here and there. Nevertheless, it is still nice to see the producers of the DVD include both editions of the film. Often times, special editions of DVD’s will only include one edition of a film and most often it is the “uncut” or “unrated” edition. By adding both, it gives fans of the film the opportunity to see both versions. In the end, a film of this nature works better with a running time of 85-95 minutes versus the 110 minute uncut version included in the ultimate edition.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

I must say that Dragon Dynasty (the producers of the DVD) did a fine job with the special features on this Ultimate Edition of the film. The first extra is a commentary by Asian cinema expert Bey Logan. Logan covers topics ranging from Jaa’s background to details of the various locations used over the course of filming. Logan also discusses all the various martial arts fighters seen in the film and discusses their backgrounds and fighting styles. Overall, the commentary is fairly entertaining because of Logan’s wealth of knowledge on Asian cinema.

Also included on the first disc is a deleted fight sequence that runs about 2 minutes. After watching the scene, it is understandable as to see why it was cut from the beginning. It would have slowed the pacing but nevertheless, it is still fun to watch because of Jaa’s amazing ability.

No Wires Attached: The Making of The Protector is a 15 minute behind the scenes look at the making of the film. We hear from Bey Logan, Jaa himself, director Prachya Pinkaew and rap star RZA, who worked on the music for the film. The extra focuses on Jaa’s background and why some have called Jaa a “live action special effect.” The extra also covers how the film was developed, difficulties in shooting with the elephants, the detailed choreography and RZA’s musical choices for the film.

The next extra is Making Tony Jaa, which is quite a literal name for what is discussed. This extra runs about 6 minutes and discusses how fight choreographer Panna Rittikrai developed and molded Jaa into what he is today. We see that Jaa was influenced heavily by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. Jaa also talks about his background as a track and field athlete as well as a gymnast.

Perhaps the best extra on the entire Ultimate Edition is The Director’s Guided Tour: Stairwell Scene. In this is a 35 minute featurette, director Prachya Pinkaew discusses the difficulties in shooting that amazing 4 minute action sequence all in one take. The 4 minute sequence took 1 month and 5 takes to shoot and we even learn that the cameramen had to physically prepare for the scene because of the ground the action sequence covers. Pinkaew shows us all 5 takes and discusses what he didn’t like about each take and what he ended up changing. I found this extra to be very fascinating especially for up and coming filmmakers. It is great for them to look at the process of just shooting one action sequence and what they must endure for only a 4 minute scene.

Also included in the DVD are Tony Jaa’s Martial Arts Demonstrations which run about 2 minutes total as well as a cell phone mobisode called “8 Limbs” which runs about 3 minutes long. The mobisode is made in comic book form and shows Jaa taking on 8 different characters in animated form. Rounding out the extras on the first disc is a soundtrack promo spot and the theatrical trailer for the film.

The main extra on the second disc is the inclusion of the uncut edition of the film. However, no commentary is provided on the extended edition.

The second disc also includes The Making of Tom Yum Goong (the original Thai title of the film) which runs about 55 minutes. The extra basically works as a commentary over some behind the scenes footage of the film. Included on the commentary is director Prachya Pinkaew, Tony Jaa and fight choreographer Panna Rittikrai. The obvious topics such as difficulties and techniques used for the fight sequences, working with elephants and the more detail on the 4 minute long take action sequence are all covered in great detail.

Rounding out the extras on the second disc are 3 short films for The Take On Tony Jaa Contest where fans create their own action sequences inspired by Jaa. The short films vary from 4 to 8 minutes and are actually quite well made.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The film’s video transfer seemed to be not as good as it could have been. Often, the film would shift in colors and would change from a crisp to grainy look. Nevertheless, the transfer is still solid for an $8 million foreign film.

The audio also had its share of problems as well. I felt in many of the scenes, the audio did not match the action in the film. Once again, I did lower my expectations given that it was a foreign film rather than a $100 million Hollywood film. Nevertheless, the film’s audio is in English/Thai 5.1 and 5.1 DTS as well as an English dubbed edition in 5.1. The extended edition is only in English/Thai 5.1 without the DTS track.



.::OVERALL::.

As I mentioned before, I thought that Dragon Dynasty did a great job in putting the DVD package together. There are plenty of extras on the DVD for fans of the film to go through and the commentary from Bey Logan is also fun to listen to for its great detail. I also liked that fact that the DVD producers decided to include both editions of the film one set rather than making fans buy two separate editions. While the film itself may be lacking in terms of storyline, there is no denying that Jaa’s martial arts ability still makes the film fun to watch. I definitely cannot wait for the next Jaa/Pinkaew film and I look forward to when Jaa finally makes his debut in American films.