Hey folks, Harry here with the latest screening of TOM YUM GOONG, this time from the red light district of Tokyo and the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival. Man, how cool is it that the internet exists to connect us to film lovers in Tokyo right now!?!?!? I love this kinda thing! Hopefully we'll also be hearing from folks as Sitges regarding the films playing in Spain right now! Here ya go, can't wait to see this myself.
I just got back from the opening night of the Tokyo International Fantastic Film Festival. The film festival was held in the red light district known as Kabukicho. They opened it with Tony Jaa’s Tom yum goong! I barley made it in because the only tickets available were standing room only. The movie was a 35mm print in Tai, Chinese, and English, with Japanese subtitles. I’m not Japanese, but it’s not like trying to follow the plot of Mission Impossible for the first time in another language either.
First I’ll start off with the bad, well it’s not so bad unless you’re a film student. The film’s main problem is lots of bad editing. It mostly happens in the first half of the film, but many chase scenes either seems to be missing footage or they just hired a lousy editor. The second half of the film takes place in Australia, which on one had is good because a lot of the dialog is in English and on the other hand bad because the English actors are horrible. I’m talking Natalie Portman Episode 3 horrible, maybe even worse.
The movie starts off in a gorgeous Thailand setting where you are introduced to the young boy Kham who is with his father and full-grown male elephant. Just as you would see in a Disney film the boy and the elephant share a special bond. As the years past their elephant finds a mate and has a small offspring. Kham is now a full-grown ass kicking, bone breaking Tony Jaa. As always there is some type of human scum element like poachers trying to take their elephants for some type of profit. Basically the youngling is the target then the mother comes to the rescue and bites the bullet, literally she bites the bullet. The male elephant is witness to who did it and sees the face of the poacher, which of course means their paths will cross soon. The animal training in the film was amazing, the young elephant alone should win an OSCAR or its performance. The death scene of the mother elephant is a tearjerker.
Skipping forward the two characters take their two remaining elephants into the city for some type of check-up and one of the members of the clinic is the poacher. Kham’s father is shot and there is a big elephant on the loose chase that leads to both getting trapped into a cargo container and shipped off to some unknown destination. Khams’s father survives the bullet wound and Kham sets off on his ass-kicking journey. Kham first brawl is pretty good, he is just pretty much cleaning house. He beats the information that he needs out of the first boss which leads to a boat chase. The boat chase is pretty bad, and spliced together horribly. Oh and what would a boat chase be without a helicopter with machine guns. Anybody who actually enjoyed the chase needs his or her head examined, it was pretty bad and pointless to the story.
Kham then travels to Sydney Australia to get back his pets. When he first arrives at the airport he bumps into none other than Jackie Chan. The cameo was well executed, it was almost as great as Jackie’s cameo on Martin Lawrence’s old TV show. From this point on the plot goes back to the same structure as Ong Bak. Kham is hot on the trail of the bad guys in the film, only to find out every time he catches one there is always the higher-level boss somewhere else. Petchtai Wongkamlao returns as a goofy police officer. He does add some comic relief to the film, but he is a far more serious character then he was in Ong Bak. He eventually befriends Kham and helps him try to find his elephants. The first big fight almost make you feel like your watching “Rumble In The Bronx”, Kham fights a lager group of extreme sports roller blade, BMX and motor cross hit men. Lots of the stunts were amazing, but the extreme sport evildoers just look pain gay and out of place with the story.
Eventually a girl prostitute is added to the story that takes the wounded Kham in for some healing. Of course her chosen profession also links her to the underground elephant dealings and she is witness to a murder, which is caught on tape. You would think this tape would play a major part in the outcome of the film, but the element is dropped from the film and again you think why did they even bother to film it. Now that the female character is on the hit list she tells Kham were he should look to find his next clue. Kham figures out the elephants were smuggled into the country for exotic food, this only enrages him more and some great ass kicking starts.
The film has way too many great fights try to explain. There is even a Matrix Reloaded type burly brawl, but this one is without the bad CGI. Kham is eventually reunited with the youngling only to find out it’s father was made into a skeleton prize trophy for the films female whip wielding boss. Seeing this gives Kham the strength to kick the shit out everybody until revenge has been fulfilled. The film has quite a few silly to down right stupid unfinished plot twists, but the cracking of thousands of bones, and Tony Jaa’s incredible moves make the film watch able. It’s not as good as Ong Bak, but definitely worth the ticket price. MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM........ Tom Yum Goong.
Until Sundays screening of Negadon,