The Protector: his mission.
Depending on which version you watch – the “local” one or the international one – you may or may not realize that the hero’s father is not killed. But in either one, the terrible injustice to his father is apparent, as is the indifference of the authorities to his plight – his pet elephant has been stolen by dreadful people and taken to another country.
The hero, played by Tony Jaa, has wicked martial arts skills and is not afraid to use them. He’s not murderous, but he’s willing to fight hard to eliminate obstacles. He has reason to be angry; he has reason to hate these evil people whose existence makes countless people miserable. In the end his persistence, courage, and sacrifice result in the defeat of evil and the salvation of the innocent.
Depending on which version you watch, you may or may not understand about the mystical connection between the good man and the elephant – that the elephant spirit can bring the good man even out of the arms of death – but by the end of the film we know that the hero has won his objective and ends up happy. He’s faced evil, he’s faced death, he’s vanquished the bad guys and set the captives free. He’s fought valiantly.
But that wasn’t at all what he had intended to do.
He just wanted his elephant back.
And with his eye on just that one prize, he was able to do all that other stuff.