Well, I'd seen Ong-Bak and was suitably amused and I'd heard mixed reviews of this film, but I wanted to see it anyway. When the first chance arose, I watched it On Demand...
Oh, boy. As soon as it started, I knew it was chopped to shit. The editing was sloppy and it seemed like it veered wildly from action scene to action scene with no plot for the first 20 minutes. Well, right I was... The US edit differs from the original by nearly half an hour, so I have to say "Thank you, American distributors" for fucking up another film. At least it's readily available on DVD, which I hope makes for a better viewing experience.
This is not to say the movie's bad... By any standard, this movie is an impressive bit of acrobatic martial arts work, putting the likes of Jackie Chan and Jet Li back in their place. Tony Jaa really is a very impressive fighter and one must be amazed by his tricks, dedication, and the method by which this film was made. There are staggeringly long shots of precise fighting, going for nearly 5 minutes without a cut as Jaa is chased by a steadi-cam. It's amazing work, really, and it all builds to a climax that really had me amazed, happy, and ready to watch the movie again.
That it is violent, there's no doubt. If you don't like the sound of snapping bones, stay away from this fucker. Because it's nice and brutal, just like daddy likes it. Those Thai badasses know how to do it and deliver really bare-bones and tough fighting. It's not always the cleanest-looking movie, but you'll be intrigued by the art put into the choreography if nothing else.
And where Ong-Bak often failed, slowed down, or grew dull, The Protector holds up and manages to stay a step ahead of your interest being lost (much easier when you're missing 25 minutes of plot). This may not be the brightest film you ever watch, but, damn it, if it isn't fun. Better than a day at the circus, at any rate.
It's got everything you could want: giants, violently snapping bones, and baby elephants being body-slammed. What more could you ask for?