Here's that movie that put Tony Jaa on the map! He only appears briefly, in a shop, beating up a few people the main character of the movie (also director of the movie), The Bodyguard, is about to take down. But that was apparently enough to make him famous enough for a movie of his own. It's not the best fight ever, but he does get to show his skills a bit. The movie posters/covers didn't originally feature him at all, yet suddenly he appears on newer releases alongside the main character as if he was the star of the show. :)
This is not about Tony Jaa though (his grand debut actually came out a year before this, my bad - and he's been in the business way longer), it's the story of a bodyguard: Wong Kom (acted by Petchtai Wongkamlao). It starts with action, almost right away. A car drives up, people get out, they enter the building, they chitchat a bit and a speech is about to go down when suddenly the entire room is ablaze with gunfire.
Wong Kom fails to keep his employer alive, but he escapes unscathed himself. He kills quite a few people in the progress, and does the best he can (or does he?), but in the end his employer's son (and future heir of the father's incredibly large business conglomerate) blames him. But when the son decided not to take Wong with him on a meeting, he gets chased and shot at, escapes, meets a lady, gets found out again, and in the end... well maybe I shouldn't tell you about the end. But they get married. Doh!
It's a comedy with tons of action, and it's a Thai movie so if you're not used to Thai culture you should be aware their humor can be pretty crude. I'm glad they're not speaking English cause if they did I'd be turning down the volume... if you know what I'm saying. It's crude, rude characters fly errr get on the wire. But it's great fun! So far the Bodyguard series is the only real Thai action-comedy series I've seen, but I wouldn't mind stumbling upon a few more. Good watch.
rated 3/5: not bad
I was tempted to give this a four this time around, but after some consideration... yeah, it's still a three after all. It's good. The comedy's good, the action's good, and the story - albeit somewhat shallow, is gripping. It feels there's no time to really get emotional: to mourn the loss of the employer, or for 'love' to truly develop between the main characters, but it stays exciting and feelgood all the same.
Most of the stunts are clear wire-work, but you don't see the wires. The action's well-choreographed, wild and fast-paced. People jump off balconies. People get impaled by parasol poles. Bad guys die like flies, and in the final warehouse fight a few unlikely adversaries get to show off their skills. It's crazy and brutal and fun all at the same time, blood-knuckled blows coupled with comedy in a way only Thai could manage.
The bodyguard's a central figure, but still always somehow in the shadows, assisting the plot progression rather than parading in its midst. They made sure to change that with the second, though it felt a lot more down-to-Earth when they didn't.
Last time I watched these two I really liked the second one more, but this time around they seem pretty equal. The second's definitely more polished and professional, but low-down and dirty has its charm too. Like Ong-Bak before it went mainstream, that's how this one feels compared to the latter. Not flawless, but gritty and good.
rated 3/5: not bad