Saturday, April 12, 2014

In short: Tom yum goong 2 (2013)

Kham’s (Tony Jaa) peaceful country life is disturbed when another gang of evildoers steals his elephant. This time around, the bad guys around a certain LC (RZA, because why hire an actor and martial artist when you can get a rapper who can’t act and is shit in his action scenes presumably for free because he’s an – admirably – big martial arts fan) want to use the poor elephant to blow up some foreign politicians. The elephant bomb is not the most stupid thing in the movie.

If you expected Tom yum goong 2 to be a return to form for Tony Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed, for it’s rather overly polite to call the film not very good. It’s not just that RZA – whose love for martial arts movies, it turns out, doesn’t make up for him being crap in them - makes a horrible main bad guy. There’s also the fact that for every fun stupid action movie idea, the film has three ideas that are just stupid, the trouble the films plot has to even connect the action scenes decently, and that Pinkaew’s direction seems rather disinterested.

The action itself fluctuates between the by now routine Thai choreography style, badly integrated CGI, and too many moments that are clearly meant to impress the audience with their stupid awesomeness (I’ll just say burning feet) but mostly feel like acts of a filmmaker trying way too hard and embarrassing himself with it. It’s a shame too, for there are a handful of moments in the fights that still show the brilliance early Pinkaew/Jaa had. Unfortunately, these moments are never where any given scene stops, because each and every fight here goes on way past its welcome, editing things down looking like a lost art.

Last and worst, if you were hoping that the casting of JeeJa Yanin beside Jaa would lead to either some awesome team-ups or awesome fights between the two, like I did in my naiveté, you will also be disappointed, for JeeJa spends most of her fights being everyone’s punching bags in what I can only see as a desperate attempt to make Jaa look more impressive. Well, at least it fits the film’s series of other wasted opportunities.

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