As I may have mentioned a few times on this very website Tony Jaa is by far the best martial artists working in cinema right now and has been since he elbowed the face off all the competition in the amazing action extravaganza that was 2003’s Ong-bak.
Since then Jaa has returned again and again stronger, faster and performing more amazing feats using variations on Muay Thai fighting form as the lead in two strong series; the two historical epic action prequels to Ong-bak set in 15th century Thailand and the contemporary set Warrior King also known as The Protector whose second part is set to emerge on DVD here in the UK.
Directed by Prachya Pinkaew who also made many of Jaa’s other films along with Chocolate a film about an autistic girl with awesome martial arts skills Warrior King 2 picks up after the first with Jaa’s character Kham back in his village with his beloved elephant the rescue of which fueled the first film.
Sadly for Kham the gentle giant that he has grown up protecting is poached once again and so he pursues, stumbling onto the murder of a local gangster who is involved and enraging his nasty nieces played by Chocolate’s JeeJa Yanin and Theerada Kittisiriprasert.
As he is chased into hiding by the terrible twins and the police who are looking into a terrorist plot he unwittingly grabs the attention of ruthless crime lord LC (Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA) who is obsessed with martial arts and keeps a stable of the greatest fighters for his own foul amusement.
Knowing Kham is one of the best of the best he dispatches his own goons to get him leading to battle after battle as each character fights for their honor, their revenge and ultimately their lives.
The first and most important point about Warrior King 2 is that it is Thailand’s first 3D action film and this completely explains many of the shots and stunts that in 2D appear somewhat incongruous and strangely filmed.
In fact it is a real pity not to be able to see this movie as it was supposed to be shown as careful consideration has obviously been taken by Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew to utalise the 3D medium to its best and offer innovative and exciting imagery with an extra dimension rather than the gimmicky way it is often used by bigger budget Hollywood films.
This quibble aside Warrior King 2 offers up some spectacular fight scenes and set pieces that will have you picking your jaw up off the floor. From Jaa versus a seemingly hundred strong motorbike gang on the rooftop’s to a four way fight in a room on fire to Jaa going one on one with the excellent Marrese Crump in increasingly more brutal battles (including one hilarious one on electrified train tracks which make their fists sound like light sabers) this is a film that action fans must see.
Alongside all that testosterone Petchtai Wongkamlao returns from the first film for some comedic relief, Only God Forgives Yayaying Rhatha Phongam stars as LC’s sultry enslaved female assassin and JeeJa Yanin gives a great performance both in her fights and her more emotional scenes.
Although perhaps cast predominantly for the American market hip hop legend RZA aka Robert Diggs throws himself whole heartedly into the villainous role and his acting and fighting are both much better than many might expect.
In many way’s watching Jaa’s films on Blu-ray or DVD is the only way to watch them as you will find yourself yelling “HOW DID HE DO THAT!” and grabbing the remote for a rewind practically every other scenes.
Putting together a balanced blend of wire work and special effects alongside mind blowing choreography and real life stunts Warrior King 2 is pure entertainment and proves yet again why Jaa is the one to watch an with a whole heap of rumored cross over roles coming up for him including Fast & Furious 7, The Raid 3 and a Kickboxer remake the hope is he keeps doing what he does best which is kicking seven shades of shit out of stunt doubles.