Warrior King 2 (2013)

Posted in Reviews by - May 04, 2015
Warrior King 2 (2013)

Principal cast and crew return eight years later for this action-packed sequel which never quite settles into a steady groove and becomes overly reliant on distracting camera trickery. The gimmicks seem unnecessary for a film featuring two of Thailand’s best martial arts actors: Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin, supervised by fighting legend Panna Rittikrai and director Prachya Pinkaew, who last worked with Jaa on the prolific failure of the Ong-Bak prequels. The film is bolstered by great personalities, but every set-piece descends into convoluted chaos, and seemingly good ideas are made to look ghastly in post-production. A rooftop bike chase starts in stunt-filled glory before culminating in a dodgy CGI train jump and a horribly artificial gas explosion. There is a fake firewall sequence in which combatants duel with flaming feet, and one of the many encounters with Marrese Crump involves electric sparks emanating from an active train-line – none of which looks remotely convincing. We seem to be a long way from the authentic, wire-free and strikingly original pugilism of the first film.

Jaa returns as Kham, the Surin-based country-boy whose quiet life is disturbed once again when criminals kidnap his elephant. “You’ve lost your elephant again?” says Inspector Mark (Petchtai Wongkamlao) incredulously – his cop buddy from the first film – who helps Kham in his covert mission to find the culprits. The baddie happens to be Wu Tang Clan founder, RZA, who fronts a terrorist fight club movement with vague connections to a western militia hoping to dismantle Thailand, or blow it up, or something. There are enjoyable moments within all the relentless head-kicking, and Jaa – looking eager after a self-imposed three-year hiatus – is still an incredibly engaging screen presence, even if the film is a complete mess.

AKA: The Protector 2; Tom Yum Goong 2

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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