Tom yum goong
starring Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Xing Jing
screenplay by Kongdej Jaturanrasamee & Napalee & Piyaros Thongdee and Joe Wannapin
directed by Prachya Pinkaew
starring Steven Strait, Sebastian Stan, Laura Ramsey, Taylor Kitsch
screenplay by J.S. Cardone
directed by Renny Harlin
by Walter Chaw Tony Jaa is a bad motherfucker. There's a moment in his latest export The Protector where it appears as though he's killed someone with his penis (lo, how I would love to avoid that epitaph), and in the meantime, he dispatches foes with the heedless joy of obvious predecessor Jackie Chan (who has a cameo in the film shot so ineptly that it suggests a Jackie Chan impersonator smeared with Vaseline). Alas, there's a plot (something about the kidnapping of two elephants, one of which is turned into a gaudy tchotcke in an evil dragon lady's den of inequity), too, told through a lot of howlingly incompetent narrative chunks you could seemingly rearrange in any order with no tangible disruption of sense. (The Butchers Weinstein may of course be partly to blame.) The film is easily the funniest, most exhilaratingly ridiculous picture in a year in which Snakes on a Plane aspired to the same camp/cult heights, and it does it the only way that you can: by being deadly serious.