In their followup to the incredible Ong-bak, director Pinkaew and Tony Jaa have created two very different experiences in the same film. A lot of Tom Yum Goong is boring, amateurish and pointless. What little plot there is makes no sense (something about rescuing an elephant family from an evil Sydney-based Thai corporate empire) and most of the English-speaking actors (there’s a surprising amount of English in the film) are laughably bad. There would have to be something extraordinary about Tom Yum Goong to justify the careers of everyone involved. Thankfully, there’s Tony Jaa and his mind-blowing action sequences.
Everything unintentionally funny and embarrassing about the film is forgotten as soon as Jaa’s action sequences begin. Even more impressive than those seen in Ong-bak, Jaa takes the naturalistic martial arts film into a new plane. I’m amazed that a human being can do the stunts that Jaa pulls off. The fight direction is also excellent; there’s a spectacular single-shot action sequence that looks so effortless and professional it makes the non-action sequences of the film look all the more worse.
I’m looking forward to seeing Tony Jaa and his action choreography in more films; with the right director and script behind him, Jaa’s potential is limitless. As it stands, Tom Yum Goong is an amazing-looking film and worth sitting through the awful filler between fight sequences.