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Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

23 Feb

If the name Tony Jaa rings a bell, thats probably because you were introduced to the movie Ong Bak back sometime around 2003. Ong Bak was a  film which introduced alot of people to a few new things: Thai Films, Hilarious English Dubbing, Muay Thai, and the insane fighting skills of Tony Jaa.

While although Tony Jaa has yet to breakthrough into the realm of credit I think he deserves, we are lucky enough to see him in a whole trilogy of Ong Bak films. Having delayed watching Ong Bak 2 and 3, I finally watched the entire Ong Bak 2 film.

A couple things to remember when watching Ong Bak 2, is that it really is nothing like Ong Bak, thats right, not a tuk-tuk in sight in this film. In fact, the film takes place in the 15th century, in ancient Siam, making for a unique setting, in a world very few people even know about. The second thing is that, just as in the original, the storyline is so faint, it ultimately fails to pull you in. Which is sad, because with the right amount of plotwork, these films could easily have become epic historical action films comparable to the likes of Gladiator, Braveheart, Apocalypto, or Croutching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

However, do not let that prevent you from watching this film. For what the movie lacks in story, it makes up for with a whole lot of flying knee kicks to heads and sternums. And the movie posesses the best use of an elephant in a fight scene, hands down.  Combat scenes are elaborate and well choreographed, and the absence of music in some parts really brings out basis of this film; the fight. Listening to leg kicks and throat jabs is all you really need sometimes. More points for some simply stunning scenery, elaborate costumes, and decent musical score.

I give this film a solid thumbs up.

Tony Jaa Still Kicking

18 Aug

While not extremely well known, Tony Jaa became mildly popular in North America after his film Ong Bak. We had seen the likes of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li master martial arts on screen, but now there was this new kid from Thailand, who grew up working the rice fields with his family spending his childhood practicing martial arts and looking after the family elephants.

356tony-jaa-ongbak-wrist-binding

Tony Jaa broke out onto the stage in 2003 with lead role in the movie Ong Bak, in he which did all of his own stunts, with no mechanical or CG help. He introduced a fighting style which the public had known little about, mixing new age moves with Muay Boran, an ancient style of Muay Tha.

His second movie was released in 2005 under a myriad of titles depending on the country in which it was released, but known as “The Protector” in North America. It was the most successful Thai film released in the U.S and grossed $25,715,096 USD worldwide. But despite the positive perception of his first 2 films, Tony Jaa has a long ways to go to reach the status of the likes of the Hong Kong stars we’ve seen in the past.

Tony Jaa is showing us that he isn’t giving up yet, with the DVD release of Ong Bak 2 in North America in October 2009. Initially thought to be the sequel to Ong Bak, the movie is actually a prequal, and the setting takes place in ancient Thailand. Check out the trailer here.

You can expect Ong Bak 3 soon as well, with filming happening in 2009 which is rumored to push the fighting scene limits even further. The future looks bright for Tony Jaa as he works his way into the eyes of the world as the next martial arts master.