Saturday, 9 April 2011

Tom Yum Goong

2005 by Prachya Pinkaew

Kham belongs to a warrior clan who used to protect the Kings elephants during war. His father now has an elephant Por Yai and its calf Khorn. Kham treats these elephants like family. These elephants are stolen during a festival and smuggled to Australia. Kham arrives in Sydney in search of them and has to find the elephants. He finds some help from a Thai origin police officer. His enemies are from a huge mafia, led by a Eunuch with some deadly, massive body guards.

Just like the Jackie chan movies of 80's, its not about the story here, its all about martial art, Muay Thai. This young man, Tony Jaa, is a genius, brave, powerful and what not. Brilliant is not a word to describe some of the fights in this movie. We know for sure that there is no computer graphics, or wires or dupes used in Tony Jaa's fights. In fact he has even co choreographed the fights. Forget about the weak story or the script or the characters or the loop holes or the director. This is all about fights.

There is one particular fight scene, which is shot in a single shot. I think it must be about 4-5 minutes, where Jaa walks up a many storeyed building and fights with many people. This is taken in a single shot and I dont remember seeing any thing like that in my whole experience with movies. How to think about the possibility, plan it, choreograph it and execute it and it has come out perfect, I will salute Jaa and his team for this scene alone. I remember the Russian movie where the whole movie was taken in a single shot, which I thought was superb choreography. But to have a whole scene of fight sequence where one man takes on so many (destroying many props) others in a single shot is 100 times more difficult than what we see in Russian Ark, with all respects to the makers of Russian Ark. I could not resist looking up in the net, and I found this - According to the director, on the special edition DVD, the continuous fight scene took five full takes for a variety of reasons, including stunt objects not breaking and the stunt mat not being in place in time. The five takes were filmed over a one-month period.

Again, there were few more other fights which were brilliant, especially one in a budhist temple. I must admit this was may be the best one on one fights I have ever seen in any movies. 

I have to also say a word about the co fighters in this movie. Tony Jaa's action look so fast and precise and powerful that I cannot imagine how the co fighters could bear it. Sure, many must have felt the heat and pain during the shoots.

Watch Tom Yum Goong, if you are really interested in action, un adulterered action.

Apart from the action scenes, there are also some beautiful shots of Kham with the elephants. Very nicely shot.

I salute Tony Jaa. I can imagine the kind of hard work he has put behind this role. Brilliant.