Cannes: Impressive Clip for Tony Jaa's "Tom Yum Goong 2" (a.k.a. "The Protector 2")

Tony Jaa in "Tom Yum Goong 2"

Sahamongkol Film, the makers of "Tom Yum Goong 2" (a.k.a "The Protector 2"), had a booth at their usual spot in the Film Market at Cannes. At least, that’s what I remembered when I was there several years ago when they were promoting “Ong Bak 2.”

They had a clip of an animated feature playing in rotation on their big screen TV - not exactly what I was looking for.

What I was expecting was at the right of that. A poster for "Tom Yum Goong 2" featuring an angry Tony Jaa filled up an entire wall. The tagline goes: “This time the fight goes beyond.” That made sense when I learned that it’s shot in digital 3D. The shortened title is “TYG2.”

I asked the representative if they had a clip for the film. They did, but the quality wasn’t good enough for the big screen TV, and that's why it wasn’t on rotation. They did have it on an iPad though, and I would have to make an appointment to see it.

I came back a couple days later and a clip of "Bad Ass" starring none other than Jija Yanin ("Chocolate") was on rotation on the TV. She's Tony Jaa’s co-star in "Tom Yum Goong 2." It’s still not what I was looking for, but it’s closer.

As promised, I was eventually shown a clip for “Tom Yum Goong 2” on an iPad.

The rep told me the budget for “Tom Yum Goong 2” is $13M, which is huge for a Thai production. “Ong Bak 2” cost $8M, and that was way over budget. The money definitely shows on the clip, which begins with an over the top view of the rooftops of a bunch of buildings.

At the center of the screen is our hero Tony Jaa. He’s surrounded by a bunch of people riding motocycles. This is a wide view and Jaa is tiny on the screen. The guys on motorcycles move in towards Jaa.

Remember, all of this takes place on rooftops of buildings! I don’t know how they got all those motorcycles up there, but it looks damn cool - and crazy.

We then move to action on the ground level, where Jaa runs into a warehouse. Coming at him from the opposite direction is a guy on a motorcycle. They clash. The camera then moves to the rooftop, and flying straight through the roof and directly at the screen is Jaa and the guy on his motorcycle. I don’t know how this is possible, but again it looks pretty cool. Now I know why the movie is shot in 3D - because crazy action sequences will be flying at you.

The next 3D action showcase takes place on a bridge. Jaa is holding a rope that is attached to the bridge, and he’s swinging under and towards the camera.

After the clip, I get the sense that the scale of the production is huge, and that director Prachya Pinkaew, fight choreographer Panna Ritthikrai, and star Tony Jaa are putting together an ambitious action showcase that attempts to break new ground in the genre.

This clip focuses exclusively on Jaa. I didn’t see his co-stars Jija Yanin (“Chocolate”) or Dan Chupong (“Born to Fight”). Also, there wasn’t much hand-to-hand combat, it was mostly stunt work. Nonetheless, what I saw is impressive, and it’s good to see Jaa back in action again after his breakdown during the filming of “Ong Bak 2.”

Although the excitement for 3D has dissipated in the U.S., it’s still going strong in Asia. It seems like every martial arts movie coming out of that region will be shot in 3D. Jet Li had already done 3D with Tsui Hark’s “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate.” Donnie Yen had completed “The Monkey King 3D” about a year ago, but it’s still in post-production and will not be released until next summer. Yen also has two other 3D movies in his slate: “The Iceman Cometh 3D” and “Ip Man 3D.”

Although I’ve already seen “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” I haven’t seen it in 3D yet. I’m curious to see how these films incorporate the technology into their fight choreography.

When “Tom Yum Goong 2” is released here in the States, I hope we’ll get it on IMAX 3D. Being able to watch Jaa elbow people’s faces and performing impressive stunts in three dimensions will be awesome.

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