The Bodyguard (2004)

"Good"

The Bodyguard (2004) Review


I was misled into watching The Bodyguard by advertising suggesting that the star was Tony Jaa, the gloriously talented Thai martial artist whose work in Ong-Bak is unforgettable. Sadly, this film was made before Ong-Bak, and Jaa appears only in a small role during a particularly balletic supermarket smackdown that, come to think of it, was worth the price of the rental anyway.

The rest of this Thai actioner is a frenzied and somewhat befuddled mess that combines amazing amounts of gunfire with wire-work kicking and flying and heavy doses of comedy. That's to be expected given that it stars Petchai Wongkamlao, one of Thailand's leading comics. We're in Jackie Chan territory here, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Wongkamlao stars as Wongkom, a bodyguard who fails to save the life of his billionaire master even though he blows away about 45 people in the fatal gunfight. Humiliated, he offers to guard the dead man's son, Chot (Piphat Apiraktanakorn), who has inherited his father's business, but before Wongkom can start working, Chot is kidnapped by rivals on the Board of Directors who want to force him to sign away his control of the company. When Chot escapes from their clutches, he hides out in a Bangkok slum where he falls in love with a poor paramedic (Pumwaree Yodkamol) and starts going around doing good deeds.

The hunt for Chot sends both Wongkom and the surprisingly clumsy gang of henchmen assigned to get him all around Bangkok, where they pause every five minutes or so for a brutal gunfight or an all-hands kickboxing brawl. Much of this action is played for laughs, most notably when Wongkom manages to defeat an excellent Chinese martial artist not with kung fu but rather with smooth dance moves he probably picked up in a second-rate Patpong disco. Thai audiences may find all this hilarious, but Westerners will likely feel a bit confused. There are a lot of inside jokes requiring more local knowledge than an American can muster. Why, for example, do transvestites keep popping up? I know Thailand is famous for its ladyboys, but are they really this prevalent? And one more question: If Buddhists preach peace and the sanctity of all life, why does everyone in Bangkok pack heat, and why does this movie have a body count somewhere around 300? The next time you walk into a supermarket in Thailand be sure to watch your back.

Dammit, Phelps, don't you have enough medals?



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: , Petchtai Wongkamlao

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