Hong Kong Cinema

Warrior King (Tom Yum Goong)

  • Made: 2005
  • Aka: Tom Yum Goong, Ong-Bak 2
  • Format: DVD R2 PAL (2 Disc)
  • Release Date: 30 Oct 2006
  • Company: Contender
  • Length: 105 mins
  • Picture: 16:9 Widescreen anamorphic
  • Sound: DD5.1, DTS
  • Language: Thai with English subtitles
  • Extras: Interviews (Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Prachya Pinkaew, Panna Rittikrai) Revolution Uprising - pre-production action, A Different Line - multi-angle sequence, Making the Warrior Trailers
  • Classification: 18


Prachya Pinkaew


Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Bongkod Khongmalai, Jin Xing, Tri Nguyen, Nathan B. Jones, David Chatchavan Asavanod, Dean Alexandrou, Lateef Crowder

Action Choreographer:

Panna Rittikrai

Warrior King - You may have heard of Ong Bak. If not, you should go out and buy it now, watch it, and then come back and read this.

Done? Okay, Warrior King is the 'sequel' of sorts, the next film starring Tony Jaa, the martial artist who burst onto the action film scene with the unbelievable Ong Bak, with his impressive Muay Thai skills and the undeniably exciting claims: "No wire-work, no stunt doubles, no CGI". Ong Bak had everything you need in an action film: lots and lots of breathtaking fights. Buoyed by a bigger budget the team took off to Sydney with a similar plot and one aim, to out-do themselves.


Tony Jaa plays Kham, an ancestor of the Jaturungkabart, the elite soldiers of the Thai army charged with protecting the King's elephant. He has a simple existence in a small village with his dad and their elephant, Por Yai, who one day bears the calf Korn that Kham grows up with and comes to see as his family. Unfortunately, poachers attempting to kidnap Korn and shoot his mother.

When Kham's father takes Por Yai to be inspected at a festival as a gift for the King, he realises that Por Yai recognises one of the poachers among the inspectors, and tries to leave. However, the ruthless poachers shoot him and Por Yai flees in pursuit of Korn who has been kidnapped while Kham was distracted. Thus starts the first action sequence as the elephant rampages through the town in pursuit of his would be captors, but he is lead into a trap and Kham is left with his wounded father. After smashing up the local gangsters, Kham finds that his elephants have been taken to Sydney and jets off to find them.

Once there Kham is helped by Inspector Mark, a cop assigned to help relations with the immigrant Asian community, and a beautiful young Thai student Pla who has been forced into prostitution by a local gang led by the vicious Johnny. It just so happens that this gang is also responsible for the kidnap of Por Yai and Korn, so Kham works his way through the gang fists first, all the way to the evil Madame Rose in search of his adopted family.


Before I launch into this properly, you should be aware that Warrior King is more of the same. The plot is practically a carbon copy of Ong Bak, where the country boy has something precious taken from him by bad guys and goes to the city to get it back, with the aid of his formidable fighting prowess. That's it. He loves his elephants, they get stolen so he goes to get them and beats people up on the way.

This simple plot is further hampered by unexplained occurrences too - at one point Mark and Kham seek refuge in a Buddhist temple in Sydney, but once they hear that the gang are scouring the city for them they leave so as not to bring any harm to the temple or its inhabitants. But on the journey out, Mark suddenly suggests out of nowhere that Kham goes back to the temple, where he finds it in flames and various henchman waiting to get all set-piecey on his ass. Warrior King is an action film, so here we are on territory where the plot is not the foremost consideration to the entertainment value.

As martial arts fans, we're in it for the action, and a decent story with convincing acting would be the icing on the cake. So, when you take into account that the acting on display easily surpasses the 80s Arnie action flicks and all the Van Damme and Seagal efforts that recur yearly, you gain some perspective and come to the realisation that Warrior King is one of the best martial arts films you have yet seen.

The opening salvo after the elephants are first stolen marks the beginning of a steady stream of sequences that will stick in your mind. A wide shot at a strange angle puts some henchmen off to one side of the screen leaving a vast expanse empty. Just as you wonder at the cruddy camera set-up, Tony Jaa flies into the room and sends all of the goons sprawling. The wealth of set pieces spoils us, with scenes including boat vs. helicopter, the 'extreme sports' gang, Tony vs. wushu, Tony vs. capoeira, Tony vs. the 7ft men and a wonderfully shot, uninterrupted four minute take following Tony up the levels of a gang owned restaurant.

There are numerous scenes where Tony Jaa bursts into a room shouting "where are my elephants?"; there is a scene making fun of Australian eco-protestors whilst simultaneously making a point about the trafficking of elephants from Thailand to Australia. The nasty gang leader is a man who has had a sex-change and isn't above killing off his/her own family in order to head the family crime empire, cementing a new level of criminal dysfunction. There are numerous moments where Wongkamlao as Mark speaks English in a not-entirely-convincing fashion and it leads to many moments where it's not certain that the comedy is unintentional (given his stand-up background). There is a CGI animation scene where we see the Jaturungkabart fending off attackers and protecting their elephant back in the day. There is even a little titillation as the admittedly gorgeous Bongkod as Pla gives a sort of lap dance in a mud-Jacuzzi as part of her gang-enforced work.

There is clearly a lot going on, so it's important that the fighting is all impeccably choreographed and once again Panna Rithikrai shows his skill as martial arts and stunt choreographer alongside Tony Jaa himself.


The two-disc release from Contender is another superb entry that once again separates their DVDs from the rest of the field. The presentation is a fantastic anamorphic widescreen print with Thai language DTS and DD5.1 and competent English subtitles. There is some concern whether omitting an English language audio may exclude some parts of their target audience, but people who cannot read subtitles and watch a movie do not deserve such as a treat as Warrior King. The second disc is packed with extras to ensure this is one of the best discs of the year. Top marks!


In the end Warrior King is a martial arts film and it delivers in spades. If you have seen and enjoyed Ong Bak, you will enjoy this without a shadow of a doubt. If you are at all interested in films where the hero has to solve his problems with violence you shouldn't hesitate to see this and it is well worth taking advantage of being able to see it in the cinema. This is the kind of film that will end up having you share your favourite bits with others who have seen it for years to come. Tony Jaa has the potential to become the martial arts king, especially now as Jackie is only getting older and Jet is apparently retiring from martial arts pictures after Fearless, so do yourself a favour and check out the latest from the man who deserves the title.