Tony Jaa, the martial arts master — who is as mesmerizing as ever — (Entertainment Weekly), stars in this epic tale of revenge set hundreds of years in the past. This prequel to Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior takes Jaa s skills t... more »o the next level, showcasing him as a master of a wide range of martial arts styles. THE BEATDOWNS ARE EPIC, with several jaw-dropping set pieces. The climactic scene qualifies as one of the BEST MARTIAL ARTS FIGHT SCENES EVER. (LA Daily News)« less
"As much as I enjoyed the original "Ong Bak" (2003), there were moments that felt like it was attempting to mimic big-budget action movies from other parts of the world (e.g., the motorbike chase, which was kinda lame). The script was also a bit bland in places. Still a great action flick, but it left some room for improvement.
Enter "Ong Bak 2", which improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. The most obvious enhancements are the cinematography and set designs, which are phenomenal. The highlight sequence in this regard must be the night time dance, which emphasizes golden architecture and beautiful clothing that reminds one of the striking visuals that are showcased in Zhang Yimou's films. All is not so clean, however, because the environments add a significant amount of authenticity with an unending assault of gritty, dirty, primal village imagery amidst the forests of Thailand. One simply cannot overstate the spectacular images presented herein, and many reviewers seem to have undervalued the amazing cultural contributions that "Ong Bak 2" has to offer, because non-Thai viewers will be transported to an unfamiliar world that not only exhibits rough geographical locations, but an equally rough (and incredibly diverse) band of bizarre, threatening characters that are attention-grabbing for virtually every second they're on screen (e.g., the white-haired mystic, the pirates, the dark-skinned wrestler, the crow man, etc.). When all is said and done, this film genuinely captures Thai culture from start to finish, with no pandering to foreign influence outside of some martial arts styles.
And that, my dear friends, is the crux of why "Ong Bak 2" so very easily surpasses its predecessor. Many of the non-action scenes are riveting and interesting to watch, which is something one cannot say about "Ong Bak" or even the brilliant "Tom Yum Goong" for that matter (which successfully used an absurd quantity of superbly executed action sequences to overpower any and all deficiencies that nest in-between the beatings). This is not to say that the script of "Ong Bak 2" is far better than Jaa's previous movies, because the conclusion is in desperate need for a direct sequel that wraps up the fates of the surviving antagonists as well as the lead protagonist. Nevertheless, the visuals, character interactions, and primary conflicts provide constant entertainment on a minute by minute basis. This movie doesn't even need action to sustain interest, and if that's not a glaring sign that Tony Jaa has already surpassed Bruce Lee as a cinematic entertainer, then nothing is.
I can't believe I've written this much without delving into the martial arts choreography, which is excellent. Is it as good as "Tom Yum Goong" in terms of quantity and precise movements? Probably not - but then again, "Tom Yum Goong" is virtually impossible to top in that regard. However, "Ong Bak 2" does provide an impressive assortment of styles that are seamlessly integrated into the action. Jaa's character doesn't randomly switch between attack styles like some other reviewers have erroneously asserted. On the contrary, his transition from one fighting technique to the next is triggered by the availability of particular weapons as well as the attack strategies of his opponents. For example, if you ever find yourself near a three-sectioned staff while fighting a number of enemies, it might make sense to use it to your advantage.
It's really nice to see that Jaa so capably expands into new realms and implements modifications to his strengths as a physical performer to yield refreshing, non-repetitive movies that are easily distinguishable from one another. I'll take this guy's movies over a lot of the big budget garbage currently coming out of China (those historical epics are just awful), and I hope that he continues to make Thai films exclusively in the near future. Although I do admit that a project with a capable Hong Kong co-star like Wu Jing or Donnie Yen would definitely get my blood pumping."
Ong Bak 2
Clinton Enlow | Kansas | 10/31/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Its hard to put into words whether I like Tony Jaa's follow up to Ong Bak. On the one hand the movie looks great, has a better story idea than either Tom Yum Goong or Ong Bak, and delivers on the action. But at the other end of the spectrum from what I like there are the obvious problems. The film as it is marked the troubled debut of Jaa as a director, a task that was marked with him apparently suffering a breakdown, running away from the set and apparently on finishing the movie with the original director of Ong Bak stepped in to help. Theres a lot I dig with the story even if its riffing on themes from Hollywood movies. The whole thing seems set up like an ode to Jaa's inspirations from the martial arts movies He cribs from to plot elements out of films like Conan and Empire Strikes Back. But the pacing feels sluggish in reality and never really captured my interest out of the action scenes. Theres a basic idea of a revenge story but the film spends maybe an hour focusing on Jaa's Tien training with bandits before rushing to a finale where He's avenging his parents murder at the hands of a ruthless conquerer. And the less said about the ending the better in my opinion. Still like I said when the movies in action mode it delivers. Truthfully most of the times thats all I really watch a martial arts movie for, even though a good story would help. When the movie dishes the action it does it well showing Jaa dishing out several forms of martial arts beatdowns in the opening. There are some amazingly good scenes throughout like at a slave camp featuring what looked to be a person fighting a real crocodile, or the ensuing revenge where Jaa unleashes drunken kung fu to destroy the slavers. But nothing compares to the last fifteen mintues with Jaa taking on masked sword wielding assassins, dishing out the punishment and going to a duel between two fighters with his signature mhuy thai of course before fighting Dan Chupong on the back of an elephant. One of my big issues with Tom Yum Goong was the lack of a great fight scene. This film certainly rectified this error presenting a scene that stands alongside the best modern martial arts action scenes in my opinion. Look in the end the movie could have been better. But at ninety seven minutes with a so so story, when it dishes out the action all my complaints are basically moot. Its not the best but what it does right, it does it perfectly and provides this action fan what He wants."
Hopefully the shape of martial arts films to come...
D. Claar | I follow Rufferto | 05/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I just picked this movie at random after watching Iriminage on YouTube for an hour and was really happy that I did. Everything about the movie showed a sense of respect for the subject as well as the audience. The story was not overly complicated, so it was easy to understand and follow, but at the same time it was interesting and compelling enough to make me want to keep watching. Considering this is a martial arts film, the acting blew me away. The actors really seemed comfortable with their roles and were natural, making it easy to get into the story. The cinematography was really good and made for an eye catching experience. On top of all of that, the martial arts were truly awesome. Maybe wires were being used in some places, but it wasn't at all obvious if they were, and most of the stunts looked real (no "slap the guy and two seconds later his head jerks sideways" stuff) and some of them even looked painful. I wish they would put up the outtakes on YouTube or somewhere."
Really good for a lazy day!
C. Williams | 09/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The movie is good. The action is great.
The action is different than Ong Bak in that they have more film cuts and use many martial arts, but the action is absolutely visually stunning and as usual, Tony Jaa clearly put life and limb on the line for his art.
If you have 10 bucks and have nothing to do, it is a nice treat!"
Christopher O | 05/06/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is tony jaas best movie. the story line is miles better than the previous ones and the action is just as great!!"