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The Protector 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Protector-2If you’ll remember last weekend I reviewed Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak franchise in its entirety from the box set.  And after how much of a disappointment those sequels wound up being, you can imagine my hesitancy going into the sequel to another Tony Jaa film, The Protector 2.  Would we actually get a sequel this time?  Would there be some of the same characters?  Will this take place in the present day or some extremely distant past?  Maybe we’ll got to some incredibly distant future this time.  Well, rest assured, this is indeed a full fledged sequel to The Protector.  Tony Jaa returns as Kham, and the dude is still all about his pet elephant.  Mark even comes back too.

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Film 

Kham is approached by some seedy characters about purchasing his elephant for a large sum.  He pissed them off when he refuses.  The next day, his elephant is gone and the owner of a large elephant ranch is found murdered and he’s the suspect.  Kham then goes on a mission to find his elephant and clear his name in the process.  He winds up getting tangled in with a gangster named LC who numbers his fighting henchman in terms of their worth.  LC wants Kham as his #01.  Kham refuses.  LC isn’t too happy about it.  Some awesome Muay Thai action ensues.

Relief.  This sequel was good.  The Protector 2 is film that’s entirely self aware, making it a thrilling action film that also will get you chuckling along the way as well.  Seriously, this movie realizes how ridiculous this and its predecessor was, but decides to go along with it and let you know they’re aware as well.  The story of the film is pretty thin and quite a bit simple.  But, as it goes with these films, most of the enjoyment comes from how the action fares.

And boy does it fare well!  Jaa has set out many incredible sequences that fill up the runtime but never give you a chance to blink or have a sigh of relief until its over.  There is a crazy rooftop action sequence involving motorcycles dive bombing at Kham.  The action is over the top and intense, but does feature a ton of incredible stunt work.  Its that stuff that looks like it hurts that I loved so much about the original Ong Bak and The Protector.  There’s even a scene with lightsaber legs kicking each other, and its absolutely stupid when you see the set up but you can’t help but enjoy it.  The movie knows and embraces every step it takes.

Now, the acting in this movie is a bit subpar, but its the sort of thing I’ve grown accustomed to with kung fu films, so its not a big complaint from me.  Jaa has shown improvement though.  And I was really taken with ‘Twenty’, though I think she was more a cool character than a good actress.  RZA plays our big bad here, and he’s an interesting figure.  He’s not the greatest performer, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.  In The Protector 2, he’s having a blast with his part and living it up in every scene.  Its hard not to love what he’s bringing.

The Protector 2 is a damn good sequel to the original.  It doesn’t have that memorable Casino sequence like the first, but it brings many of its own memorable sequences to the fold.  Its a thrilling, ass-kicking, funny good time that is afraid to admit or be ridiculous.  I loved all the stuntwork in the film as well as these really awesome sequences.  Tony Jaa, you have made up for me having to sit through Ong Bak 2 and 3 with this film.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: This is a super crisp and sharp transfer.  Detail is very high.  Look no further than the elephant.  Its skin provides a myriad of detail.  Surfaces, clothing and everything is charged with high resolutions scuffs, gloss and texture.

Depth: Since this was shot in 3D this thing excels in its sense of depth perception.  Even on 2D its relative.  Lots of things come at the screen and there’s really grand environment and spacing between the objects/persons/buildings whatever is in the forefront and stuff in the middle and background.

Black Levels:  For the most part, the black levels are jet black, but there’s an inconsistency.  There are many instances where it feels the brightness level is cranked up in night scenes and the black appears much much grayer.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty striking.  Reds are bursting off the screen.  Its a really lively looking feature.

Flesh Tones: Consistent throughout.  Have a lifelike look to them.  Scars, wrinkles, sweat beads, gashes, all fully detailed.

Noise/Artifacts:  Nothing seen during this viewing.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): Thai 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English Narrative, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a pretty incredible 5.1 track.  Its loud and kicks a lot of ass.  The emphasis is on the action sounds, so they are loud and prominent, but they also come at varying degrees of volumes.  This track feels like a rock concert of kung fu action.

Low Frequency Extension: Emphasizing the punches is the subwoofer.  Also explosions, gunfire and destruction gets an oompf.  It also provides some kick to the scores.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s plenty of play during some action scenes.  You can hear motorcycles and other fights in the speakers.  Its plays around and really adds to the experience.  I swear I heard the elephant in one of the rear speakers too.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Audio is clean and clear, a little on the lower side, but always at the forefront and audible.

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Extras 

There is nothing extra with it in the way of a digital copy or anything.

Behind The Scenes Featurettes

  • Cast And Characters (SD, 12:57) – I thought this would be talking with the cast about the characters, but its moreso just talking about the production and plot of the movie.
  • Speaking With The Director (SD, 3:14) – The director discusses his approach and work on the film
  • Action And Stunts (SD, 3:23) – Behind the scenes footage of many of the notable action sequences.  Reveals a lot of the fighting technique used.
  • Working In 3D (SD, 2:53) – Tony Jaa and others discuss the decision to make it in 3D and planning scenes and executing them.

Axs TV: A Look At The Protector 2 (HD, 2:55) – A commercial for the film.

Trailers (HD, 1:36, 3:14, 3:14)

Also From Magnolia Home Entertainment – Trailers for Journey To The West, Filth, Stage Fright, Ong Bak 3, Chideo, Axs TV

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Summary 

I had a damn good time with The Protector 2.  The movie really understood what it was and embraced it.  It had balls and wasn’t afraid to go over the top.  And, it sells it extremely well.  The supplements range from solid to generic, but the presentation for this is pretty top notch.  If you’re a fan of The Protector or the original Ong Bak, this is the film you’ve been waiting for.  RZA fans, rejoice and pick yourself up a copy of this movie!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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