Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003)


We're in Thailand and in a remote village Ting (played by Tony Jaa) is finishing his training by the local monk. Some thugs from Bangkok arrive in the village and attempt to buy an amulet from the village caretaker but is refused. In revenge they steal the head of their most prized possession, the Buddha statue called Ong Bak. Ting is tasked with recovering the stolen head. He heads over to the big city to track it down, on the way meeting a former villager turned small time city hustler and somehow gets involved in an illegal fighting ring and he kicks a lot of arse.

With poor acting, poor dialogue, a plot a child of five could come up with I should really not like the film. And yet it has it's hero leap 15 feet into the air to double knee his opponent through a wooden floor to land another fifteen feet below. This is as far as I'm aware a cinematic first and thus something that is hard to ignore. It's of course a very flimsy vehicle to show off Jaa's skills and they are very impressive. However the constant use of slow motion replays to show off particular stunts did grate at times. I have a rewind button already I don't need you to re- show me a scene and tell me to be impressed.

Taken on one hand it is a very flawed and flimsy film. However in the tradition of all good martial arts films the action goes some way to making up for it. Not all the way in this case. Jaa is impressively fluid and the fights are brutal. It's a call out to the old school Jackie Chan type stunts but with an edge to them. Whereas Chan has natural comedic timing, being the Buster Keaton of the martial arts world, Jaa is less instantly charismatic but but the film is is an easy enough way to spend an hour or so.