The English-language Thai movie poster
|Directed by||Prachya Pinkaew|
|Produced by||Somsak Techaratanaprasert
|Written by||Prachya Pinkaew
Johnny Tri Nguyen
|Music by||Howard Drossin|
|Edited by||Stratos Gabrielidis|
|Distributed by||Sahamongkol Film International|
|11 August 2005|
Tom-Yum-Goong (Thai: ต้มยำกุ้ง, IPA: [tôm jam kûŋ] is a 2005 Thai martial arts action film starring Tony Jaa. The film was directed by Prachya Pinkaew, who also directed Jaa's prior breakout film Ong-Bak. As with Ong-Bak, the fights were choreographed by Jaa and his mentor, Panna Rittikrai. The film was distributed as The Warrior King in the United Kingdom, as The Protector in the United States, as Thai Dragon in Spain, as Revenge of the Warrior in Germany, and as Honor of the Dragon in Russia and CIS countries.
Kham is the last of a family line of guards who once watched over the King of Thailand's war elephants. Traditionally, only the most perfect elephants could successfully defend the throne, and very great care was taken in raising them. Kham grows up forming close relations to his elephant, Por Yai and his calf, Kohrn. During Songkran festival, the elephants are stolen with help from Mr. Suthep, a local MP and his son who are collaborating with elephant poachers. Kham discovers that they are in the hands of Johnny, a Vietnamese gangster who runs a Thai restaurant named Tom Yum Goong Otob in Sydney, Australia.
Kham arrives in Sydney, and is stalked by the police as soon as he leaves the airport. Kham coerces a gangster to lead him to Johnny's hideout, interrupting a drug deal. Outraged, Johnny summons countless extreme sports enthusiasts, who arrive to fight Kham.
Exhausted, Kham falls asleep in an alley. A prostitute brings him to her apartment. In his sleep, he dreams of an epic battle involving war elephants and the Jaturangkabart, the elephant protectors. When Pla leaves, Kham wakes up to the sound of police sirens and must escape.
Two officers, Mark and Rick are taken off the case and reassigned to provide security for the Police Commissioner's meeting with Mr. Sim. In that meeting, Pla acted as a hostess girl to the two men. During the meeting, Mr. Sim and the Commissioner are murdered. The murder is instigated by Vincent, who kills Rick and puts the blame on Mark. Mark escapes, but is later captured.
With Pla's help, Kham enters Tom Yum Goong Otob. He fights his way into the VIP area and reaches the dining hall at the top. Kham demands, "Where are my elephants?" and is met with the laughter of Johnny and his men. Johnny taunts Kham with Kohrn's bell. This enrages Kham and he fights and defeats his opponents. He enters the storage area, containing various exotic animals ready to be butchered and eaten. Kham finds and frees Mark and Kohrn, escaping minutes before the police arrive. Meanwhile, Madame Rose is made the new leader of the Chinese gang after she murders two other possible successors.
Inspector Vincent initiates a search for Kham and Mark, who are hiding in a Buddhist monastery. Soon after their departure, the monastery is set on fire. But then Kham returns, and he defeats a fierce capoerista and a sword-wielding wushu exponent. However, his third opponent, a giant wrestler, proves way too much for Kham. When the police arrive, he flees with Mark. By morning, Kham goes on his way. Mark is discovered by several policemen and sent to deal with Inspector Vincent, whom Pla has revealed to be the murderer.
Kham arrives at a conference hall where Madame Rose is having a press conference. Kohrn runs in, scaring off everyone while Kham engages the gangsters. He later finds Kohrn in an elevator lobby, where Vincent threatens to shoot him.
Kham finds himself with Kohrn in a huge room, and he is shown the skeleton of Por Yai, encrusted with jewels as a gift to Madame Rose. Her men then attack Kham, and he attacks them more brutally than previously seen, by breaking many of the men's arms and legs. The wrestler from the monastery is called in, along with three others. Kohrn is thrown through a glass wall, and Kham is knocked into the elephant ornament, causing two leg bones to fall off. Kham ties them around his arms and uses them as clubs to knock the wrestlers out. He stops Madame Rose before she can escape in a helicopter, and crashed.
Back in the lobby, Mark is shown Pla, and forgiven by his boss, Inspector Lamond. He is given a new partner who speaks Thai. Mark is then interviewed by a reporter about Kham. Finally, a narration from Mark is heard, with scenes of Kham's childhood shown. Mark explains that Thai people treat elephants like they are their brothers, and they hate people who hurt them. Thais love peace, but dislike people who take liberties. Kham is finally reunited with Kohrn.
- Tony Jaa as Kham, the last of a family line of guards who once watched over the King of Thailand's war elephants. Kham is characterized by the juxtaposition of his red krama scarf throughout the film. As he grows up, he bonds closely with his elephant Por Yai and its calf, Korn. When they are stolen, Kham journeys to Sydney, Australia to get them back. Actor Nutdanai Kong portrays 9-year-old Kham.
- Sotorn Rungruaeng as Kham's father, who taught Kham the fighting style of the Jaturangkabat, the royal guardians of the Thai war elephants. It has been Kham's father's dream that his elephant Por Yai would be selected as one of the Royal Thai elephants. However, during a fake inspection staged by a local member of parliament, his elephants are stolen, and he is wounded by a gunshot.
- Petchtai Wongkamlao as Sergeant Mark, a Thai-Australian policeman who patrols an area of Sydney populated by Asians. He is so popular there that the locals often do him favors like giving him free mangoes and haircuts.
- Bongkoj Khongmalai as Pla, a Thai student in Sydney who is forced to be a call girl to repay the debt of her former boyfriend, the late Wittaya who used to own Tom Yum Goong Otob, a Thai restaurant.
- Xing Jin as Madame Rose, a transsexual member of a Chinese gang in Sydney, who is in conflict with the leader, her Uncle Mr. Sim. It should be noted that the actress who plays Rose is a transsexual herself.
- Damian De Montemas as Inspector Vincent, a corrupt policeman in Sydney who collaborates with Madame Rose.
- David Asavanond as Officer Rick, Sergeant Mark's new partner.
- Nathan Jones (credited as Nathan B. Jones) as T.K., a giant wrestler who proves to be more than a match for Kham.
- Johnny Tri Nguyen as Johnny, a Vietnamese gangster who is a subordinate of Madame Rose. He is responsible for her drug deals and the running of the Tom Yum Goong Otob.
- Lateef Crowder as a capoerista who fights Kham in the Buddhist monastery. He has the word Pray carved to his chest.
- Jon Foo (Jonathan Patrick Foo) as a wushu exponent who is Kham's second opponent in the monastery.
- Pumwaree Yodkamol, who co-starred in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, is seen briefly, portraying a Thai tourist in a Sydney street scene. She berates a friend of hers about DVD piracy.
- Wannakit Sirioput who also co starred in Ong Bak (as Don) cameos at the end of the film as Mark's new partner.
- An impressionist portrays Jackie Chan, whom Kham briefly encounters at the airport in Sydney. In real life, Chan is one of Jaa's idols and the impressionist is one of Chan's body doubles.
- Another impressionist portrays Thai rocker Sek Loso, the pitchman for the M-150 energy drink, which is among the brands with product placement throughout the film.
- Actors Don Ferguson, Erik Markus Schuetz, Lex de Groot (uncredited) and Damian Mavis (uncredited) appear as bodyguards.
Compared to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which was noted for its lack of wirework and CGI, this movie uses CGI in several scenes, from the obvious (helicopter scene, and an entirely computer-animated dream sequence), to the subtle (a glass window shattering in the four-minute steadicam long take that follows Jaa up several flights of stairs as he dispatches thug after thug in dramatic fashion).
The largest example of CGI is Tony Jaa's dramatic leap from the top of a building to attack Madame Rose with a double knee attack. While the background was blue screen with the Australian backdrop added in post production, the long fall shown on screen was real as Jaa and a stuntperson pulled the scene off, landing on large mats below. Even in scenes like this with blue screen, normally a stunt double would be called in for the lead actor, but Jaa once again made sure he did the stunt himself.
Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai created a new style of Muay Thai for this movie called muay kodchasaan (มวยคชสาร roughly translated as "elephant boxing"), emphasizing grappling moves. "I wanted to show the art of the elephant combined with muay Thai," Tony told the Associated Press in an interview, adding that the moves imitate how an elephant would defend itself, with the arms acting as the trunk.
Many aspiring stuntmen sent demo tapes, hoping to be cast in the film. An American stunt actor was cast but did not properly take the impact and was injured on the first take. "He kicked me, I used my arm to block his kick, and he fell down hard," Tony told the Associated Press.
However, no one was hospitalized in the making of the film, with injuries limited to "bumps and bruises, muscle tears, a little something like that. Nothing major," Tony said.
The fights include duels with:
- Wushu practitioner (portrayed by John Foo).
- A Vietnamese triad captain (portrayed by Spider-man stunt double Johnny Nguyen).
- A capoeirista (portrayed by Lateef Crowder of the ZeroGravity stunt team).
- An extraordinarily large and strong bodyguard (portrayed by former WWE wrestler Nathan Jones).
- A whip-wielding triad boss (portrayed by world-renowned ballerina Jing Xing).
- Two taekwondo fighters (portrayed by Dean Alexandrou and Gianny Belfiore) in a deleted two-vs-one scene in the temple.
International sales rights (outside Asia) were purchased by TF1, which made suggestions for re-editing to director Prachya Pinkaew, who then made some cuts that slightly reduce the film's running time from its original 108 minutes.
The UK title is Warrior King, and the theatrical release was on July 28, 2006. In France and Belgium, the title is L'Honneur du dragon, and in the Netherlands and other European it is Honour of the Dragon. In Cambodia, the film is called Neak Prodal Junboth. In India, it was named Haathi Mere Saathi (literally elephant, my partner), from a name of another Bollywood film starring Rajesh Khanna.
A two-vs-one fight scene taking place in the burning temple near the end of the film was deleted from currently released versions of the film. The taekwondo sequence, featuring Dean Alexandrou and Daniel Oneill is shown in part in nearly all promotional trailers for the film, but was cut due to unknown reasons from the final release. However footage can be seen in the making-of featurettes, and some behind-the-scenes VCDs. The two bodies are seen to mysteriously appear on the temple floor, near the beginning of the temple fight scene.
Prachya Pinkaew stated that he trimmed several of the fight scenes due to their length. Some of these include the sequence on the bridge in Sydney, when Kham confronts Johnny and his henchmen for the first time. One can see in certain trailers Kham launching himself off of the shoulders of one henchmen to elbow the other one. Another sequence that he trimmed considerably was the warehouse fight scene.
In the U.S. release of Tom-Yum-Goong, where it was named The Protector, there is a deleted scene of Kham beginning his ambush of the house party by the criminal group who stole his elephants. In all of its releases, the fight sequence begins with Tony Jaa throwing a henchman down the stairs. But this deleted scene shows where the fight really began.
US release as The Protector
The Weinstein Company purchased the U.S. distribution rights for Tom-Yum-Goong and retitled it The Protector (also the name of a 1985 film starring Jackie Chan). This version was released theatrically on September 8, 2006. It was released in January 2007 on DVD on The Weinstein Company's Dragon Dynasty label in a two-disc set that includes both the U.S. edit and the original Thai version of the film.
For the US theatrical cut, the film's length was reduced by at least 25 minutes, going so far as to trim down some of the fight scenes, even though it was given an "R" rating restricting audiences to people aged 17 and over. Out of all cuts outside of Thailand, it is the shortest cut of the film, even more so than the European cuts. It also features a new score by RZA. Some parts of the missing footage (including cuts to the "bone breaker" fight and Madame Rose envisioning herself in a red dress as queen) appeared in the U.S. trailer and TV Spots.
Also, The Protector is partially subtitled and partially dubbed, with all of Jaa's dialogue subtitled. Several changes were made to the plot through editing and subtitles that did not match the spoken Thai and Chinese dialogue.
Changes that were made to the US theatrical release include:
- The historical role of the Thai warriors is given in more detail in the opening prologue
- Scenes of TV reporters given tour of Sydney by Sgt. Mark are removed.
- Scenes of Sgt. Mark handling robbery and releasing the would-be assassin are removed.
- Kham's father, rather than being injured, died by the gunshot.
- Tony Jaa's lines now include "You killed my father!"
- Madame Rose loses face and is denied a "security" contract over bad turtle soup instead of the Chinese business leader's refusal to deal because of bad terms.
- Madame Rose's transsexuality is never mentioned.
- The ending has been trimmed to imply that Madame Rose is dead rather than just injured after her fall through the roof.
- Johnny does not return to kill Vincent after Vincent was apprehended by Mark.
- Exposition is given to further explain the cutting of tendons to defeat the bruisers at the end.
- The ending epilogue given by Sgt. Mark in the US version is significantly different and nobler than the Thai version, which is whimsical and comic relief in tone and is much less concerned with resolution.
Tom-Yum-Goong opened in Thailand on August 11, 2005, and grossed US$1,609,720 in its first weekend and was No. 1 at the Thai box office (normally dominated by Hollywood imports) for two weeks in a row. It ended its Thai run with US$4,417,800, blockbuster business by Thai standards.
The Weinstein Company released Tom-Yum-Goong in North America in a heavily edited version entitled The Protector, which was the third release by their Dragon Dynasty label. It was also given the "Quentin Tarantino Presents" brand, which had proven lucrative in the past for films like Hero and Hostel. It opened in 1,541 cinemas on September 8, 2006 and ranked No. 4 in its opening weekend, grossing $5,034,180 ($3,226 per screen). It ended its run with $12,044,087. In the US, it ranks 67th among martial arts films and 14th among foreign films.
A sequel, Tom Yum Goong 2, was released in 2013. It was also released in the US as The Protector 2.
- Pearson, Ryan. September 5, 2006. "Breaking down the beatdown", Associated Press (retrieved January 4, 2007).
- Tom Yum Goong DVD comparison, Premier Asia vs Dragon Dynasty (retrieved January 11, 2007).
- 2005 Thailand Box Office Index, Box Office Mojo, retrieved January 4, 2006.
- Thailand Box Office September 1–4, 2005, Box Office Mojo, retrieved January 4, 2006.
- Weekend Box Office, September 8-10, 2006, Box Office Mojo, retrieved January 4, 2007.
- The Protector, Box Office Mojo, retrieved January 4, 2007.
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