Published on January 20th, 2006 | by Greg0
Tom Yum Goong: Swift Kick to the Script
After Tony Jaa’s last film, Ong-bak, I had been eagerly awaiting this new film featuring him as a newly converted fan. However, it turned quickly into a so-wrong, so-right production. Tom Yum Goong is proof that higher production values does not necessarily mean a better movie.
Encompassed in this Thai movie are some truly great fight scenes and a lot of solid choreography. Also, a really cute baby elephant. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of really bad English, an incoherent plot, and some shoddy editing.
This multicultural movie starts off in Thailand, with the abduction of the really cute baby elephant (and it’s father). Tony Jaa follows the trail of the elephants to Australia where he somehow immediately becomes an outlaw following the death of his taxicab driver who police shot for some reason.
There are a few repeat actors in this movie, including the supporting actor who in this movie plays a ‘renegade’ Australian cop who doesn’t follow the rules but is basically a good guy. Also, one of the the bad guys from the last film, appears in this one as a lower-level, sort of middle-management bad guy. Many new characters are in this film and he fights against probably four times more people.
Consistent with the previous movie, there were a lot of different fighting opponents and styles, and Tony Jaa’s fighting adjusted to each accordingly. My favorite scene pitted Tony Jaa against a Capoeira fighter, a martial art that’s supposed to be more of a dance. The guy had a long kick and an awesome hairdo. Also among the cast were a few WWF-like men, rollerbladers, swordsmen, and even a whip-wielding woman for that extra bit of kink. There’s a great scene that is one continuous take of floor after floor of mayhem in a brothel/restaurant.
tom Yum Goong was really intense in its violence, though. There was one scene I dubbed the “limb snapping” scene, as Tony Jaa probably dislocated or broke an average of one limb every 3-4 seconds, sometimes multiple times, for several minutes straight. (And that wasn’t the most gruesome scene.) I’ll just say, it’s not for the faint of heart, who can only find this DVD on the internet (import shops, $8-$15) anyway.
Also, this plot really left something to be desired. It was there, but it was so incoherent and massive that I just couldn’t follow it. The fundamental story seemed to involve a big conspiracy involving police diplomats, the Chinese mafia, and a transvestite’s grudge, all revolving around an apparent multi-billion-dollar underground elephant industry? Tom Yum Goong is senseless maybe, but it’s great in parts, and still makes Tony Jaa look good.