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The Protector

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
The Protector
from Film Forum, 09/14/06

Are you ready for another big screen display of standard-setting martial arts?

Tony Jaa, the star of Ong-Bak, is back, this time as Kham, The Protector, a man who ventures from Thailand to Australia rescue a stolen, sacred elephant from a gang of Asian thieves. Oh, there's more to the plot. But reviewers are quick to admit that The Protector's story serves as an excuse for high-concept stunts and spectacular fight scenes.

Marcus Yoars (Plugged In) says, "Watching [Jaa] jump around kicking and pummeling row after row of hapless enemies in The Protector reminded me not just of fighting through 20 levels of a violent video game, but worse, being forced to watch someone else fight through 20 levels of a violent video game." He adds, "[T]here are laughably horrendous video games out there with better stories, characters and acting. Lots better."

But Greg Wright (Looking Closer) says, "Some films are enjoyable on their own terms and defy scholarly critique. The Protector is one of these." He recounts spectacular, "mind-boggling" martial-arts displays, one of which "out-Chans Jackie Chan," and another which pushes Jaa to "his utmost physical limit."

Mainstream critics are split on whether to embrace the film for its action or reject it for its ludicrous screenplay.