Booze, Baseball, and another "B"

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Who protects the movie?....

After watching The Protector last night, all of the people I saw the movie with called my judgment into question. Their shared opinion was that I had just subjected them to a complete mess of a movie, one which had random dubbing, poor film quality, and probably the worst editing of a film any of us had sat through in a theater.

I knew that The Protector wasn't going to be a good movie. I knew that the original version, Tom Yum Goong, was supposed to be a bit of a disappointment, but really all I wanted was some kick-ass martial arts (specifically Muay-Thai) action. Having sought out Ong Bak quite a while before it was even considered for release in the US (kind of like I did with Shaolin Soccer, another film picked up by the Weinsteins...), I was hoping for the action in The Protector to be like the action in Ong Bak. If you haven't seen Ong Bak, I suggest you check it out. The script is terrible (but arguably not as bad as The Protector), but the action scenes are just brutal. Tony Jaa's Muay-Thai prowess in that film is a sight to behold, and quite literally, he breaks people. It's really harsh, which makes it REALLY GOOD.

The Protector sucked.

What made it so bad? To be fair, from what I understand the original, Tom Yum Goong, was no fantastic starting point. The script is terrible, but that's no excuse; the script in Ong Bak was terrible but that movie is great. For The Protector, at least some of it's mediocrity has to be attributed to the hack job it endured.

I know what you're thinking. "What's that? 'Hack job' you say? That simply can't be! The Protector is the first theatrical release from the Weinstein's highly-touted, Quentin Tarantino-paired, Dragon Dynasty label! With this new label they were going to right the wrongs of the past, and stop butchering every single Asian film they could get their hands on!" Yeah, well, nice thinkin'. As Kaiju Shakedown pointed out when the label was first created, these guys are known for ", dubs, and cut versions." Unfortunately they haven't changed.

The Protector in it's original form was 109 minutes. The US release version? 84 minutes. For those keeping score, that's a 23% cut of the film. When you take a quarter of just about anything out, it's just not going to be the same, and with The Protector, it becomes simply non-sensical. Fights simply stop, not end but STOP, scenes have awkward transitions, and at least three times the entire theater was laughing at the edits. For the label that was supposed to be the savior for Asian Cinema fans, The Protector was one of the worst starts they could have had.

Next week their first DVD comes out, and even before its release Dragon Dynasty has incurred some ire from fans. The movie, Sha Po Lang (or more commonly "SPL"), is Donnie Yen's highly-regarded fight fest. What did Dragon Dynasty do before the movie even gets released on DVD? They renamed it "Kill Zone." While the re-titling irks me, from what I've read so far, they haven't taken the scissors to the film, and that's important. The DVD also has the original Cantonese track, another plus. Don't get me wrong, while they haven't been doing things right so far, I can't wait to see SPL, and I'm definitely going to give their DVD a chance.

As for The Protector, the DVD release should be interesting. I don't think that it will be addressed on the DVD, but I'd love to hear an explanation from Bey Logan or Quentin Tarantino as to why they cut 23% of the movie out and these guys, who tout themselves as Asian Cinema fans (their actions make them look like they like Asian cinema about as much as Paul Anderson likes Aliens and Predator), would put their names on something so bastardized.

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