Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

"OK"

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior Review


Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa is being touted as the heir-apparent to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li -- and in "Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior," he certainly makes a mark for himself in the increasingly popular genre with refined, enthrallingly focused, breathtakingly acrobatic grace.

The first time he's shown on screen -- simply practicing his Muay Thai kung-fu style in precision exercises of extraordinary power and sharp, sudden movements -- its impossible to take your eyes off him.

When he actually begins fighting -- and climbing walls and sliding under cars and literally jumping through barbwire hoops -- "Ong-Bak" seems well on its way to becoming a truly great launching pad for an Asian fighter-actor who could take the world by storm.

By the third or fourth such episode of stunts and fierce chop-socky showdowns, however, a lack of creativity begins to drag the picture down.

The plot is simple and predictable, but that's to be expected -- nobody sees such movies for their insight, intelligence, character development or witty repartee. Jaa plays a young rural villager who ventures to the big city to retrieve a sacred Buddha head stolen from his community temple. He violently kicks the butts of a myriad of gangsters to get his hands on the relic, and that's pretty much all there is to it.

But as imaginative, awe-inspiring, and often brutal as Jaa's punches, kicks, swirls and stunts may be, it seems director Prachya Pinkaew can't get enough of certain repetitive moves (elbow to the head, elbow to the head, elbow to the head...). Neither does he trust the audience to appreciate the movie's feats of derring-do without beating us over the head with them. For each Jackie-Chan type exploit Jaa performs, the director seems bent on unspooling every inch of footage shot from every angle and at every speed -- even though showing off clearly isn't Jaa's style.

What's worse, Pinkaew's obsession with slow-motion often unwittingly betrays the pulled punches and near-miss kicks of the fight choreography, which is itself a problem at times since some moves have clearly been chosen for the way they look on screen, even though they are, in fact, laughably impractical. (So is the ridiculous rap song tacked on over the closing credits for the U.S. release.)

"Ong-Bak" has a raw, dirty, gritty visual style that mixes well with no-holds-barred beat-downs and do-it-yourself stunts. For martial arts aficionados, this may be a pivotal moment in the genre's evolution, and as such, a film not to be missed. But Jaa isn't what you'd call an actor, and "Ong-Bak" would just be an assembly-line B-movie import without his gift for this unique, sinuous new brand of chop-socky.



Facts and Figures

Box Office Worldwide: $4.6M

Production compaines: Baa-Ram-Ewe, Sahamongkolfilm Co.

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Ting, Petchtai Wongkamlao as Humlae / Dirty Balls / George, as Muay Lek, Suchao Pongwilai as Komtuan, Chumphorn Thepphithak as Uncle Mao, Cheathavuth Watcharakhun as Peng, Wannakit Sirioput as Don, Rungrawee Barijindakul as Ngek, Chatthapong Pantanaunkul as Saming, Nudhapol Asavabhakhin as Toshiro, Pornpimol Chookanthong as Mae Waan, Udom Chouncheun as Ta Meun, Boonsri Yindee as Yai Hom

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

Beauty And The Beast Movie Review

This remake of Disney's 1991 classic is remarkably faithful, using present-day digital animation effects to...

The Salesman Movie Review

The Salesman Movie Review

Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi won his second Oscar with this astute drama which, like 2011's...

Get Out Movie Review

Get Out Movie Review

Leave it to a comedian to make one of the scariest movies in recent memory....

Personal Shopper Movie Review

Personal Shopper Movie Review

After winning a series of major awards for her role in Olivier Assayas' Clouds of...

Advertisement
Certain Women Movie Review

Certain Women Movie Review

In films like Wendy and Lucy and Meek's Cutoff, writer-director Kelly Reichardt has told sharply...

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

Kong: Skull Island Movie Review

After the success of 2014's Godzilla reboot, the Warner Bros monsters get their own franchise,...

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Viceroy's House Movie Review

Filmmaker Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham) draws on her own family history to explore...

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

Trespass Against Us Movie Review

With an extra dose of attitude and energy, this Irish comedy-drama hits us like a...

Logan Movie Review

Logan Movie Review

Hugh Jackman returns to his signature role one last time (so he says), reuniting with...

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day Movie Review

The third time's a charm for Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, who previously teamed...

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

A Cure for Wellness Movie Review

It's no surprise that this creep-out horror thriller is packed with whizzy visual invention, since...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.