Archive for the ‘Jeeja Yanin’ Category

Protector 2 poster

Set 5 years after the events of the first movie, Kham is teaching kids how to communicate to elephants with the help of his beloved Khon who he treats like a brother. He learns through a friend that somebody wants to buy his elephant but he refuses. Kham leaves Khon with his friend whilst he goes to town. When he comes back to his place, his friend has been attacked and his elephant kidnapped once more. Kham goes to the house of the person that wanted to buy Khon only to find he’s been murdered. He’s caught in the house by the dead man’s two nieces who assume that Kham has murdered him. Kham is forced to go on the run from the two women. The real culprit is an organisation headed by a foreign man named LC. They kidnap Kham and ask him to assassinate a politician to bring about a civil war between two countries or Khon will come to some harm. With the help of an Interpol police agent and one of the nieces, Kham sets out to destroy LC and his organisation.

This movie heralds the return of Tony Jaa who went on hiatus for a couple of years and allegedly became a monk (not sure if that’s true or not?). His last movie before he disappeared (Ong Bak 3) was a total disaster. The problem that led to his hiatus was because of a 10 year contract with Samhangkol Film International that Jaa was tied up to. He wanted to do other movies but they weren’t going to allow him to do that. It’s alleged that Jaa had a bit of a breakdown because of this problem so he walked away from everything and waited until the contract had finished. This has now happened which is why he’s back making this movie. The funny thing is Jaa has signed up to the same studio again and they’re the ones behind this movie. I just hope Jaa has asked for some concessions this time with his new contract or the same problems could arise again. Another person returning is female action star Jeeja Yanin. Back in 2012 she shocked her fans when she announced she was pregnant and was going to get married. A movie containing both these Thai action stars you’d hope would be a right cracker but as you’ll see in the review below this movie is a bit of a mixed bag and it doesn’t really deliver.

It’s best for me to tell those that expect this movie to mark a return to form for Tony Jaa to lower their expectations. Trust me, if you do this you won’t be disappointed by what you see. It is nothing like the enjoyable first Protector movie. The biggest problem with this movie is the overuse of CG effects which is really ropey and looks terrible. Gone are the real stunts and proper fights we saw in Jaa’s previous movies. The reliance on third-rate special effects and wirework is shown at its worst in an overlong motorbike/rooftop chase during the first half which at times looks fake and it isn’t even believable. You have to suspend your disbelief watching this sequence. I have no idea why the Thai filmmakers turned their backs on the raw stunts/fights – elements which had made the previous movie so successful.  It seems that Jaa isn’t even fighting at his usual speed during the movie, perhaps he was asked to slow down to accomodate the limited martial arts skills of RZA and Marrese Crump. I did find it strange why they also chose to rip Star Wars lightsaber sounds for one of Jaa’s fights on electrified train tracks. Wonder if George Lucas knows about it?

Protector 2 screenshot

Tony Jaa is just OK in this movie, he is definitely not at his best here. It’s gonna take a movie with a better script to repair his reputation. I was quite pissed off at the treatment of Jeeja Yanin. She is shamefully underused and only pops up now and then to help Jaa’s character out and coupled with the fact that she is made to look weak in certain scenes this really annoyed me. What an opportunity the director had in having two of the hottest Thai martial artists around in his movie and he totally screws it up. The worst actor of all in the whole production is RZA (he of The Man WithThe Iron Fists fame) who doesn’t come up to scratch as the lead villain. He is just terrible and his acting is pathetic in this movie. Couldn’t they have picked somebody better to go up against Tony Jaa? I’m sure there are plenty of actors who could have done a much better job. Marrese Crump as RZA’s no.2 in his organisation manages to outshine his American co-star by having a couple of great one-on-one scraps with Jaa.

At the end of the day, whilst it’s good to see Tony Jaa and Jeeja Yanin back on the big screen, I can’t rate this movie other than plain average. The plot is a bit of a mess and the awful CGI effects doesn’t help things one bit. Hopefully things will improve for both stars in the future and I eagerly await their next movies.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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this girl is Bad-ass promo

Jukkalan is a tough young orphan woman living with her Uncle Wang who runs a bootleg DVD shop.  She’s employed by 2 crime bosses into discreetly delivering ‘certain’ packages to each other by bike. These packages although never said is presumed to be drugs. The street smart woman has also been dipping her grubby fingers into the packages and stealing some of the drugs so that she can sell them herself and make some money but also trying to get the 2 gangs to be at each other’s throats.  Before long the 2 bosses find out what she’s been doing and send their cronies after her. They’re no match for her fighting skills but still the bosses will not stop in their pursuit of her and she’s given an ultimatum to cough up. Jukkalan also has her eyes set on a long haired rock guitarist who lives next door which doesn’t please an old childhood ‘friend’ Duan who likes her a lot and wants her to notice him but she keeps beating him up. Will Jukkalan manage to come up with the cash she needs to get the 2 bosses off her back?

Ever since Thai martial arts star Jeeja Yanin burst onto the scene with Chocolate, the rest of her work hasn’t been up the high standard I expected it to be and I’m not sure why this has been the case. With such a great title for this movie I had high hopes that this was going to be a return of form for Jeeja but my hopes were dashed immediately during the first 15 mins. Let me give it to you straight: this is more of a comedy movie than a martial arts one so all of you out there thinking that just because of the movie’s title it’s going to be a rip-roaring action fest are going to be disappointed. The problem is this movie has been sold as a martial arts movie for Westerners when clearly it isn’t – it’s a comedy movie with a couple of action scenes thrown in which is due in part to the director who’s a comedian himself. The thing is Thai audiences love that kind of thing but Western audiences like seeing more action content than comedy in this type of movie. The action sequences are too short to be really great though I did like 2 decent fights – one in which Jeeja uses a bicycle to fend off some baddies which somewhat reminded me of what Jackie Chan used to do years ago in that he’d pick up an object and use it in various ways to fight an opponent. The rest of the fights are underwhelming and I found them lacking. The main plot of the movie is a bit basic, rather weak and the pacing throughout is very uneven. I would suspect due to a lot of viewers not being familiar with Thai pop culture that some of the jokes contained in the movie fall flat. The comedy when it does work is really funny and I did laugh during certain scenes.

this girl is bad-ass screenshot

The sub-plot with Jeeja falling for a handsome guitarist who turns out to be gay and Duan, one of her ugly male friends trying to win her heart is rather pointless though he does get some great gags revolving around him. This part of the movie is meant to show a softer side to the tough image that Jeeja usually portrays in that she can be cute and adorable as well. As for the rest of the characters in this movie the words camp and oddball springs to mind from one of the gangster bosses who speaks with a high squeaky voice to some stupid cops who can’t shoot properly, midget muay-thai wrestlers and a weird looking character going around on a wooden horse with wheels in which he has to bounce up and down to move. They’re all played completely OTT and purely for laughs.

It’s a shame this movie didn’t live up to what I thought it would be and the title of this movie is very misleading (perhaps they should have stuck with the original name Jukkalan instead). There’s too much lame comedy and not enough action for my liking. I find Jeeja being wasted in these comedy movies but hopefully we’ll see her back at her kick-ass best in Tony Jaa’s The Protector 2 which should come out sometime in 2014. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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A Korean man Mun and his family consisting of wife Mi-ja, elder son Tae-yang, daughter Tae-mi and younger son Tae-Poong have settled down in Bangkok, Thailand where the father runs a Taekwondo school and the mother runs a restaurant. An expensive Thai treasure valued at $30 million dollars called the Kris Of Kings (basically an ancient long dagger) has been returned to the country and already a gang of Korean thieves take the opportunity to steal it but luckily the Mun family is nearby and manage to thwart the robbery. The gang of thieves escape and the family gets to be famous thanks to their efforts. However, the leader of the gang refuses to accept that the family have humiliated him and sends some of his thugs to the Mun restaurant but again they come away defeated. Mun decides to send his kids away to an old family friend who runs a small zoo in the countryside thnking that it’ll be safer for them there. Eventually though the gang find out where they are and kidnap Tae-Poong. The only way Mun and his family can have him back is to steal the Kris and hand it over to the gang leader. Will they be successful in stealing the Kris and rescuing their young son?

Whilst there are plenty of action movies from Korea, Korean martial arts movies are few and far between. This movie tries to readdress the balance but is it any good? Well, the answer is not really. This was the first joint movie project between South Korea and Thailand. The plot is nothing new, in fact the story is wafer-thin and just an excuse for the continuous action and whilst there are a few decent martial arts fights, it just wasn’t enough to make the movie rise above anything else than plain average. There’s even a dull side plot about Mun pushing his elder son to succeed at martial arts because he failed at the Olympics 20 years previously but all Tae-yang is interested in doing in taking part in dance auditions. It didn’t help the movie one bit that terribly cheap CGI effects was used at times such as a scene in a crocodile pit. It just looks bad. The villains aren’t even that menacing, there’s a distinct lack of any drama and the comedy I thought was lame. The highlight for me is near the end in a fight inside one of Bangkok Zoo’s enclosures where Tae-yang jumps on top of empty animal cages and has to fend off the villains all the while trying to avoid several spinning metal fans dangling from the ceiling. Quite an inventive scene and very exciting but sadly that was the only scene that really got me going. Maybe I was expecting director Prachya Pinkaew to come up with the goods seeing as he gave us the excellent Ong Bak, Chocolate and Tom Yum Goong but he doesn’t come close to emulating those movies with this one even if it does feature a dancing elephant!!

The cast I didn’t think was particularly good either apart from the 2 young Koreans who played brother and sister. Na Tae-Ju as Tae-yang is probably the best actor in the movie and I enjoyed his fighting style. He’s very nimble and acrobatic. He incorporates some dancing moves in keeping in line with his character and some taekwondo to kick some ass. Kim Gyeong-suk as Tae-mi who plays his sister fares well in her fighting scenes as well. That’s to be expected as both are major Taekwondo stars in South Korea. The rest of the Korean family is a bit bland. Thai martial arts star Jeeja Yanin is horribly underused and doesn’t get the chance to really show off her skills. After all, even though the movie is set in Thailand, it is mostly a Korean production (they funded 75% of the movie) and the filmmakers obviously didn’t want Jeeja to overshadow the main stars. Those expecting her to feature in some bone crunching action like in her 2 previous movies (Chocolate/Raging Phoenix) will definitely be disappointed. I know I was!

The Kick might have it’s moments but overall I found the whole movie very underwhelming. Instantly forgettable.

Sadako’s Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

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This movie rocks! A baby girl is born with autism. As she grows up, she finds her senses have been heightened. She picks up martial arts from watching TV and the Muay Thai school next door to her house. When her mother is dying from cancer and needs money for treatment, Zen and her friend Moom go about collecting money from the nasty gangs that owe her mother. They have no idea what’s about to hit them….

The 24 year old Thai female Jeeja Yanin is absolutely amazing here. This was her debut movie and she totally kicks ass in it. So agile in her fights. The action scenes left me speechless. Cool use of images showing another Thai star Tony Jaa. Great to also see Japanese actor Abe Hiroshi in this movie. It’s probably one of my favorite martial arts movie ever.

Sadako’s Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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