Monday, August 14, 2006

Tom Yum Goong/Honour of the Dragon/The Warrior King/Thai Elephants In Space/Trunken Master

Review by Simon of

Anyone who has seen Ong Bak may be slightly apprehensive at the start of Tom Yum. Ong Bak pretty much went straight in with fast paced action and didn't let up. Tom Yum starts with a 20-30 minute sequence establishing young Kahm's (Jaa) love for elephants (platonic).

Some may find this beautiful and necessary exposition to set up the character for the events and journey he is to undertake as a young man, others may feel this is twenty minutes of cloying sentimentality that could have been better spent showing Jaa kicking heads/lampposts/windows. I'm on the fence. Hopefully a fence Tony Jaa would kick a man through whilst I watched in slack jawed amazement.

Don't worry though, after the I-Love-My-Elephants bit is out of the way, the pace picks up back to what we expect. After his two elephant friends are kidnapped, Kahm travels to Australia to get them back - and uses his Muay Thai fighting to skills battle a series of thugs, punks, scum, bodyguards, Wushu fighters, wrestlers, Capoeira fighters, BMX gangs and an evil woman. All right!

Aided by a Thai born Australian cop (Thai comedian Petchtai Wongkamlao, who appeared as 'Dirty Balls' in Ong Bak) Kahn discovers a conspiracy that involves Chinese gangsters and corrupt Australian government officials. The action is slick and spectacular, and Tom Yum even manages to squeeze a brief cameo from Jackie Chan giving Jaa a thumbs up gesture. Awesome!

Tom Yum isn't that different to Ong Bak - it's the story of a man fighting against incredible odds to reclaim his heritage - though it's still and incredibly enjoyable film. If you're a fan Jaa's previous outings then this won't disappoint, and if you've never seen any of his films you should watch Tom Yum Goong and Ong Bak in one sitting. You know. Bak to bak.

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