Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchai Wongkamlao, Jeeja Yanin, Marrese Crump, RZA
Running Length: 105 minutes
Synopsis: Kham (Tony Jaa) has once again been separated from his pet elephant, and Kham must fight anyone in his way to be reunited with his pet.
Review: There’s no denying that Tony Jaa is a bonafide action star, successfully breaking into Hollywood and slated to appear next in Fast and Furious 7. However, he is best known for his kick-assery in the Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong movies, and in Tom Yum Goong 2 he continues to show why he’s probably one of the best martial artists/actors of our time. Unfortunately, that does not make Tom Yum Goong 2 (henceforth known as TYG2) a good movie, and the film comes off as being barely (just barely) passable, plagued with issues like bad acting, dodgy CGI, questionable plot lines and a complete disregard for the laws of physics (and common sense). The only saving grace are the fight sequences, and even some of these come off being poorly edited and choreographed. Although the viewing I was at wasn’t a 3D screening, it was clear even in 2D that the third dimension is just a cheesy gimmick. Even with tempered expectations, TYG2 just can’t warrant a recommendation, except for the most hardcore fans of Tony Jaa or Jeeja Yanin.
One wouldn’t expect the plot of a show like TYG2 to be complicated, but there are so many plot threads running amok that it just all becomes a rather convoluted mess. Characters are simply forgotten along the way, and Jeeja’s character and storyline in particular feel like throwaways. Even the action sequences are somewhat questionable in their execution, none more so than a protracted scene involving motorcycles and some truly heinous green screen work. The film also seems to be subject to particularly overzealous but substandard sound work – there were scenes where it was painfully clear too much celery was being crunched in post production. Don’t even get me started on the scene where a fight is conducted on a electrified railway track, where Tony Jaa and Marrese Gump both sound like they are wielding Star Wars lightsabers. If it is intended humor that the director was going for, then he has definitely raised the bar.
Unlike the original TYG which really showcased the martial arts prowess of the actors, there seems to be an over reliance on CG in TYG2, with quite a number of scenes shot too close and edited way too rapidly. This wouldn’t be so glaring if the CG was done well, but it is painfully obvious when green screen work is done, which is jarring and does not serve the suspension of disbelief well at all. There are still some rather hard-hitting and well choreographed fight scenes despite this, so it’s not a total wash. Unfortunately, instead of showcasing near-impossible martial arts moves like before, TYG2 showcases impossible moves, for example a truly ridiculous scene that involves what seems like fire retardant shoes and flame kicks. It’s a waste really, that Tony Jaa’s body of work in Thai would end (for now at least) on such a lackluster note, but hopefully his Hollywood foray would prove to be more fruitful.
Rating: * ½ (out of four stars)