Warrior King (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

There's a cute moment early on in this Thai action movie when the hero (the martial artist and stunt choreographer Tony Jaa) arrives at Sydney airport and bumps into Jackie Chan on his way out, a little grace note symbolising the old master's handing on the chopsocky torch to the young pretender. Or something like. Jaa plays Kham, a descendant of Thai warriors, who is in pursuit of a baby elephant kidnapped by ivory traders and sold to gangsters in Sydney's Little Saigon. The story gradually surrenders all sense, and the abysmal acting goes with it, but Jaa certainly knows how to put on a fight - this guy's got quick feet, quick hands, quick everything, and when he's not running up walls, he's cracking the heads and bones of a hundred black-suited goons.

One bravura sequence - the director Prachya Pinkaew's "Scorsese" shot - has Jaa on a seemingly endless ascent of a winding hotel staircase, biffing this thug and that on his way, and by the time he reaches the top, you can see the heavy-legged exhaustion in the actor's body language. No wirework or stunt doubles here, just hard graft, skill and astonishing athleticism.

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