If it at first you do succeed, then Thai, Thai again — so seems the motto of slapstick martial-arts action-comedy sequel “The Bodyguard 2.” Festival buffs who enjoyed multihyphenate Petchtai Wongkamlao’s serious perf in 2005’s “Midnight, My Love” will get a chance to see the acrobatic Thai comedian perform the hilarious stuff he’s famous for in his native country. Pic went gangbusters on local release in March, and though the first film never achieved the international status of “Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior” (which also featured Wongkamlao in a major role), sequel should be an ancillary hit with Asian film geeks worldwide.
Yarn begins with Khamlao (Wongkamlao, who also helmed and co-scripted) working undercover as a cowboy go-go dancer in a Bangkok gay disco, which is a front for an arms dealer. While Khamlao bumps and grinds, the nightclub is infiltrated by thugs buying missiles, which sets in motion a silly shootout.
Sequence is followed by an even sillier extended chase scene, with the hero on a motorcycle pursued by a monster truck armed with a rocket launcher. In between his Secret Service gigs, Khamlao is henpecked by his horny hairdresser wife (Janet Kaew), who’s oblivious to his policing activities.
Khamlao is then drafted by the Secret Service to infiltrate a record company that also deals in warhead trafficking. Protag poses as a wannabe singer and, in less time than it takes to don a gaudy suit, becomes the nation’s favorite pop star with chart-topping hits about how ugly his wife is.
Also snooping around is VJ-cum-CIA agent Paula (Jacquelyn Apitananon), who, after an initial martial-arts misunderstanding, teams up with Khamlao to defeat the arms dealers.
Some of the bawdy banter makes it through the subtitling process intact and would give Judd Apatow a run for his money. Helming is competent and threadbare story only barely hangs together, but energetic cutting, rapid pacing and verbal and visual humor by the bucketload ensure auds will be too busy enjoying themselves to care about pic’s flaws.
Film is actually a prequel to the original 2004 Thai B.O. smash, but the uninitiated can take comfort in the knowledge that the film makes no more sense — and is no less enjoyable — for late arrivals to the franchise.
Multiple cameos by Thai personalities pop up throughout, of which Tony Jaa, of “Ong-Bak” fame, is most likely to draw international cries of recognition. Final credits crawl is accompanied by a riotous nonstop rant from beefy “Pattaya Maniac” star Choosak Iamsuk that only partially relies on knowledge of his identity for amusement value.