Thai action icon Tony Jaa returns to one of his most famous roles in this long awaited sequel to his second major action film. While it is long awaited, it best to come seeing this film with lower expectations.
It has been five years since Kham (Jaa), a man who considers his prized elephant Khon like a brother, rescued him from a syndicate in Sydney. Returning home to Surin, he teaches kids how to communicate with elephants as well as teach them the fighting art of the elephant. When he learns that someone wants to buy Khon, he refuses of course. However, when Khon is once again kidnapped, Kham confronts the man who wanted to buy him only to find him dead. When the man’s nieces arrive, they frame him for their uncle’s murder, forcing Kham to go into hiding.
The real culprit is another crime syndicate run by LC (RZA). LC holds underground fights between his various henchmen, all who are identified only by numbers. When Kham finds himself kidnapped by LC, he learns that he must do a job in order to save both himself and Khon. He will need to assistance of an old friend, Interpol agent Mark (Petchtai Wongkamlao), and Ping Ping (Jeeja Yanin), one of the nieces of the original victim, to take down LC and his organization, who have plans to continue a civil war between rival countries.
In 2005, TOM YUM GOONG was only Tony Jaa’s second film as a lead actor. It may have had a simplistic plot of a man having to retrieve an elephant from a crime syndicate. However, the film’s selling point was the action sequences, which saw Jaa take on fighters of various styles and even some monsters such as Nathan Jones. This sequel bodes as somewhat different as there are no various styles used, but rather use the same plot but try something different.
The difference this time around? Wire stunts and computer generated imagery (CGI) to enhance the action. Some of the wire stunts worked well but the CGI effects were pretty much sub-par. Jaa’s first action sequence consisted of a motorcycle chase and in one move, Jaa and a motorcyclist crash up the roof of a rooftop shack, but Jaa comes crashing down on his opponent with an elbow strike. It looks to be a combination of both wires and CGI, but it looks non-too exciting.
It is only when Jaa uses the more practical techniques in the fight scenes, they work quite well. Many will be disappointed to see CHOCOLATE’s Jeeja Yanin being somewhat underused as she plays a woman with only revenge on her mind. While it would have been exciting to have see Jaa and Yanin join forces in awesomeness, it is sad to see that it fails on most levels. However, there is a breakout star of this film and his name is Marrese Crump. The Florida-based martial artist makes the most impact of the film as No. 2, the main henchman to the lead villain, played by rapper and martial arts film fan RZA. Crump’s battles against Jaa are truly the highlight of this film as he gives Jaa a run for his money. Crump is a beast and I don’t mean in size, but the way he moves and deals with impact. As for the RZA, he does better here than he did in his recent film THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. He even has some action himself and looks pretty good here, which can surprise many.
So don’t expect the typical Tony Jaa in TOM YUM GOONG. It is best to lower the Jaa standard bar a little and you might just enjoy this. In addition, look out for Marrese Crump as he truly is the breakout star here. Let’s hope this gets his proposed FORMLESS off the ground.
JeeJa Yanin • Marrese Crump • RZA • sequel • Tom Yum Goong 2 (2013) • Tony Jaa