Tag Archives: elephants

The Raid: Redemption. Action, Done Right.

And now we come to what has become one of my favorite movies of all time. The Raid Redemption is one of the most cohesive, brutal, action driven films I have seen since I first watched The Protector with Tony Jaa. And what makes it better is that a lot of people actually like it. For once, Rotten Tomatoes is right in giving it a 83% fresh rating. This movie is fresh as hell.

What should I start with in talking about this martial arts movie to the extreme? Well, its

Get your shoot on.

basis comes from some of the best. In an interview, I remember Gareth Evans saying he was inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and earlier films of the time. But when you see this, you know it shoots right into the vein of Muay Thai, no holds barred, stunt fighting with punches hardly pulled. People are getting worked in this movie (on and off camera). And when you introduce guns into the mix, you know things are going to get even more brutal.

And there’s a plot here as well! No running after elephants and single minded goals to be had here. There’s a raid, some character development, and then a twist. Everything you need in a movie like

Br00tal.

this. Basically, Iko Uwais, now one of my top 5 favorite martial artists of all time, plays Rama, a passionate SWAT team member with a wife and a baby on the way. His team leader, Jaka (Joe Taslim) is determined to do the mission with no losses and everything in order and justified. But with the sounding of the alarm, a 30 floor slum building crawling with hundreds of crime gangs, everything is going to go off.

Other than the adequate acting in this film, I was really impressed that some martial artists I hadn’t see before showed up in this one. Joe Taslim was quite the throw artist with his specialty in Judo. His fight with Mad Dog was literally redonkulous. And then there’s Mad Dog himself, played by Yayan Ruhian. That little greasy haired monkey absolutely destroys half of the people in this movie, and doesn’t even stop when he gets a light bulb shaft shoved in his neck. Unbelievably badass. Throw in the expertise of Iko Uwais and his Silat, and you have the best 101 minutes of my life.

What I was surprised about in this movie was how much weaponry was used in a classically martial arts movie. Guns,

Mad Dog, unleashed.

assault rifles, knives, police clubs, the environment as well as the weapons available created a more realistic situation than just fists and feet. (Watch out for the Machete Gang though…) People getting thrown into furniture and off of ledges, this movie becomes so brutal everybody is shouting “OH!” while watching it.

Now we come to the soundtrack. For the U.S. and English speaking release (I mean subtitled of course), Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park was recruited to make his own original electronic soundtrack to complement the movie in comparison to the Indonesian release. What is created is what I would consider a throwback to the first two L.P. albums which is far superior to the stuff they’re coming out with now. The drums and bass come in at just the right moments to escalate your emotions and really get your blood pumping. Just like a video game, you have this rising action as you get into unique fight after unique fight. Superb.

30 floors of Hell.

Throw together all these elements and you have a Welsh director in an English speaking country that gets Eastern martial arts cinema. If I could grow up to be like him, I’d do it. The Raid: Redemption just proves that martial arts action films can be explosive, entertaining, and dramatic. 9.8 out of 10.

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The Bodyguard #1 & 2: Not Your Average Thai Film

I’m gonna combine the first Bodyguard and the second, as one flows into the other. I loved this movies so much that I even watched them back to back. Petchtai Wongkamlao is a hilariously funny guy and he did a great directorial job with the onscreen humor and action. The movies didn’t focus too heavily on himself and he did this quite humbly. A lot of the humor comes from plays on words and references you have to get from knowing his work with Panna Ritikrai and Tony Jaa. Either way, these movies will kick your ass with their in your face guns and side splitting foreign comedy.

The first films starts off with Wong Kom (Petchtai Wongkamlao) as a bodyguard/official operative. He has come to this international convention to guard a major player named Chot Petchpantakam (Surachai Juntimatom). With the ensuing attack and lots of wire fu

Wongkamlao, the unconventional action star.

(Kung Fu with wires. Think a la Crouching Tiger.), Wong attempts to save Chot, but he is shot in the crossfire. The rest of the film focuses around Wong’s committed attempt to regain his honor and Chot’s son, Chaichol (Piphat Apiraktanakorn) trying to keep his father’s business running. With assassination attempts, a crew of street rats, and a rags meet riches story, this movie has a lot of humor and heart.

Just some Thai humor for ya.

In the second Bodyguard, things are a bit different. Wong is an undercover agent attempting to take down a crime syndicate that is dealing in weapons of mass destruction. After infiltrating a night club as a “provocative dancer”, Wong screws up yet again. Some explosions and gunshots later, Wong must become a famous luk thung (basically, a Thai country singer) star and keep everything from his wife, Keaw (Janet Keaw). With more laughs and quite a bit more explosions, this film surpassed the budget for Ong Bak with 1 million Baht (Thai currency), becoming the biggest film to be made in Thailand. It would be eclipsed by Ong Bak 2 shortly after.

Tony Jaa makes an appearance as the shopkeep boy.

What made these American standard B-rated action films so great is that they didn’t take themselves seriously. Wongkamlao is spinning through the air with two guns cocked and completely infinite in bullets, whipping around the room, absolutely annihilating people in very strange ways. The actors aren’t to serious about their villainous ways and it really shows throughout. Biggest example is the Thai comedian that shows up in both films. In the first, he (and I wish I could decipher which character he was) always wears something inappropriate and never talks. In the second, he dies at the end without saying anything. What makes this so great is that (and I hope it was fake) at the end of the second film, this guy blows up at Wongkamlao for not including him more in the film. I think the Thai sense of humor is spot on and could do very well over here in America.

There are so many over the top explosions and gun fight scenes that you can’t take this movie too seriously. It’s all the

That’s a bit vulgar… and a midget.

kind of action that makes Tony Jaa’s films so popular, but even more so. And that’s another great thing. They advertised in Thailand and America that Tony Jaa was going to be a big player in both these films, and he shows up to do a 5 minute action scene. It always has something to do with one of his other films, and it’s great to see that he can laugh at himself. (Where’s my elephant?)

All the heart and guns in the world.

This movie really shows just what Thailand is like. It’s more than all the action scenes and comedy that comes from these movies. And Wongkamlao knows that. There’s poverty and crime, burgeoning cities and night life, even a rich cultural aspect you don’t always see in an action film. And that’s where the heart comes from in these movies. It’s a movie you set out to do with your friends and come to love making and showing off. I’ve done it myself a dozen times. It’s not serious, it’s just showing that you can make an entertaining movie, and it doesn’t have to be award winning. And that’s why I think American audiences should check out these movies. Embrace this new culture and realize we’re a lot more alike than we think. And for this, The Bodyguard series deserves a comedy induced and action packed 7.5 out of 10.


The Protector: Tony Jaa Destroys All

What more is there to say than The Protector is the best of all of Tony Jaa’s films? I’ve watched them all. I’ve seen them all. Time and time again, this is the best of the best. Tony Jaa performs at his finest in this film, in every scene. This is one nonstop action/display of skills that you cannot miss.

The Protector is the story of the ancient Muay-Thai fighters who raised and protected the elephants that would one day serve as the steeds of the nobles. The protectors raised the elephants to have strong legs and never fall, and in this way strengthened themselves. This practice extends even into modern day as a discipline among the protectors and elephants alike. And this premise makes for one amazing film.

Kham (Tony Jaa) is the son of a elephant protector who is raising a family of elephants to be viewed by the king for his own personal use. As Kham grows,

That's some ridiculous training.

the elephants have a child, Kohrn, and that elephant grows with Kham. It is then that one day the “king” wishes to see the elephants that Kham’s father has raised. The king’s inspectors turn out to be working for an Asian crime syndicate located in Australia, and they kill and kidnap Korhn and his father. Thus begins Tony Jaa’s journey of revenge on every single member of the Australian/Asian gang. And not a single member is left without at least a broken arm.

This movie, for lack of a better word, is epic. In its scope, in its stylistic vision, in its stunts and fluidity, everything. Tony Jaa pushes himself to the limit in all of his moves and stunts. Which needs to be reiterated. Tony Jaa

That's Jaa right there.

does all of his own stunts. No wires, no CGI, no stuntmen. Nothing. This film is pure Tony Jaa. At no point in this film do I ever think, “That wasn’t really that impressive.” Everything that Tony Jaa does makes my heart stop. It is literally insane the amount of things that Tony Jaa can perform in the way of stunts and acrobatics with his body that could lethally kill someone or otherwise. Suffice it to say that Muay-Thai boxing and the style of Muay-Thai fighting in general is severely brutal. This is what drew me to Tony Jaa’s films in the first place. Unlike most martial arts films, Tony Jaa’s are more brutal, less about the finesse (although it’s there) and more about the fluid, detrimental way and in which to take out your opponent. Let’s put it this way. A full force knee into your chest from an expert in Muay-Thai is like getting in a 30 mile an hour car crash with no seatbelt. Yeah. He screams devastation.

And people might say, hey, you just have some absurd love for Tony Jaa. You are obsessed with him. That may be true. In comparison to most other martial artists in the film industry, Tony Jaa brings something new.

Brutal.

Something brutal. Something eye opening. And he literally hasn’t stopped. Ever since the first Ong Bak back in 2003, Tony Jaa has given the world 8 years of solid, amazing films in the martial arts genre. And for an actor who is only really meant to do stunts, he’s not that bad of an actor in general. He’s pretty damn good at crying.

But yeah, this movie in general is a display of just how mind-blowing Tony Jaa truly is. There are about, I’d say, 4 amazing scenes throughout the film spread out by about 15 minutes each. You have the initial interrogation with boat chase, the warehouse X-games beat down, the restaurant shuffle, and the bone shattering ending. And with each one, they just get better. So it is to you Prachya Pinkaew that I tip my hat, for bringing us Tony Jaa in The Protector and Ong Bak. The world would truly be missing something if it weren’t for you. And yes, Tony Jaa, you can destroy me anytime. 10 out of 10.