No Stunts, No Wires, No CGIs, Just Actions; Just Amazing
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 02/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You like Jackie Chan films? Or remember Bruce Lee? If so, don't miss this one from Thailand, where the film industry is thriving more than ever. And remember the name of Tony Jaa, stunt-turned-actor (incidentally, he was a stunt in the second 'Mortal Kombat' film, and his then co-worker was Ray Park, 'X-Men') Jaa's martial arts skills based on Muay Thai (Thai-style fighting) are simply astonishing.
[NO STUNTS, NO CGIs] Strangely titled film 'Ong-bak: Thai Warrior' is, as the title says, an exciting Thai actioner starring Tony Jaa (real name Panom Yeerum), who plays the hero Ting living in an apparently sleepy country in Thailand. Not exactly, you soon see. In this interesting opening scene, you see these scantily dressed guys climing up one big tree, and during the fighting, they fall one by one onto the ground. This is actually a kind of festival, or ritual, of the hero's village, but what you should realize is, the film uses NO CGIs, NO WIRES ATTACHED.
[FORGET THE STORY] Story? Need one? OK, Tony Jaa's hero has to track down the theives who cut off and stole the head of the sacred statue in his village. With this mission, he goes to town, where he meets one middle-aged man George, and his friend (perhaps girlfriend) Muay. Before you know it, they all got in troubles for the thugs start attack them.
[ACTIONS] Then, actions begin, which are simply eye-poping. One example: in the cat-and-mouse chase scene in the market, running away from the bad guys, Tony Jarr jumps over the tables, stalls, and cars (!) with Jackie's comic timing. And look how he slides into UNDER an RV! To add to them, he leaps through a ring of barbed wires (real ones, I suppose), and comes out unharmed, never stopping a moment!
Himself a Muay Thai fighter, Tony Jaa (or his character) joins in several illegal boxing bouts. You might say you have seen this kind of bloody, bone-crunching fight sequences in the past. Not Tony Jaa's high-kicking that strikes the opponent at the speed of lightening. This sounds like cliche, I know, but it is true, his agile movement reminds me of the deadly power of Bruce Lee and the ultra-fast speed of Jet Li.
And that's not the end, for Jaa does many, many other actions, which I refuse to write about here, for you should see them for yourself in theatres. Again, I say, Tony Jaa uses no stunts, no special effects or no strings. Of course, he will not win the Oscar for acting the hero of this film, but when he can fight like Lee, Chan, and Li, who cares?
My advice: 'Ong-bak' is a must for any fans who love action films. Watch it, and be surprised."
Sizzling Martial Arts Action and Compelling Drama
Erika Borsos | Gulf Coast of FL, USA | 02/10/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From a small Thai village the statue of the revered deity Ong Bak is vandalized ... his head is stolen. The film shows how the eight moves of Muay Thai are executed by Ting, the best maritial arts fighter in the village who is sent to the city to find and return this sacred object. The local priest admonishes Ting to use only peaceful means because the moves can be deadly. Ting is given money and valuables by the villagers who aresimple and poor but faithful he will succeed ... He is advised to seek the help of a cousin, who lives in the city. Ting finds his cousin who is less than enthusiastic to receive a visitor from his village. The cousin is ashamed of his village roots, he has taken on an American name and has a girlfriend whom he likes to impress that he is "cool" ... unfortunately, he also has a gambling habit that has gotten him into deep debt with the underworld bosses.
After the cousin stole Ting's money and gambled it away, Ting ends up fighting goons sent by the local gangster to put fear into his cousin, essentially pay up or risk permanent injury. Ting's fighting prowess impresses his cousin who gets the idea to have him fight at a local arena against the best fighters where betting takes place. The cousin is certain he will recoup his losses ...Ting agrees on the condition afterwards his cousin will help find Ong Bak. While the story line is basic, the fighting scenes captivate and capture the viewer's attention and hold it throughout the film.
The scenes where Tony Jaa jumps over several produce carts during a chase in the city while knives are thrown at him is astonishing. Another phenomenal scene involves a huge number of three wheeled taxis which are driven by Ting's would-be captors as he fights them off while he is riding in a moving taxi. When they come to the end of the freeway there is an unexpected drop off ... like the edge of a cliff, the freeway is under constructed and incomplete. There is an explosive ending related to the capture of the gangster boss and the *surprise* location of an unprecedented number of Buddha heads which were stolen. This DVD has great extra features, such as a live performance of martial arts by Tony Jaa on stage in Paris during the opening of his film. It also has a rap music video which incorporates phenomenal martial arts performed by Tony Jaa. Some behind the scenes footage features the creation of specific stunts within the film. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]"
Michael Bird | Yorba Linda, CA United States | 02/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This one is well worth catching at the big screen if it happens to be playing close by, the action is very well done. If you like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee or Jet Li, than this action adventure flick with plenty of fighting scenes will not disappoint. The lead character, a young man named Ting, has to leave his village and go to Bangkok to try and track down a religious relic stolen from his village, when he gets there, he, as we might expect, gets more than he had bargained for running into a criminal gang.
While the production was behind our modern standards here in the states, and certainly wasn't as refined as movies like Hidden Dragon or other modern Jackie Chan flicks, it easily competes with early Kung Fu movies and is on the same level as earlier Chan flicks that were done in China.
The athletic abilities and grace demonstrated by the lead were very skilled, and while some of the action sequences were obviously influenced by some of Chan's work, including inventive use of props and adding some humor to action, there was a lot here that was original in its form, at least to my eyes, and I think there is a big future, perhaps in American films, for the star.
My five star rating is based upon its place in this catagory of film, some of the acting is a bit cheesy, and being subtitled hurts a bit, however, in this genre it's easily a five star flick and I highly recommend it to fans of marital arts movies."
Very good, only bad editing
PolarisDiB | Southwest, USA | 09/10/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sometime about a year ago my roommates and I were watching this clip on the television over and over again. It detailed a fighter who was doing a bunch of kung-fu-y spinny moves, then advances towards an opponent who...
Roommate: "He stepped on his face."
Me: "Wow. It's like a kick, only--"
Roommate: "Only he stepped on his face."
Me: "How's that possible?"
Roommate: "I don't know..."
The opponent is Tony Jaa, the star of this film.
In a small, farming village, a young man named Ting is training to be ordained by the monk of the village until a local of the village, who had moved to the city and was visiting, steals the head of the Ong-Bak, the village Buddha. Considering the village's drought and other bad luck, this last problem leaves them with no chance, so Ting embarks out to the big city to recover the treasure.
Once there, he meets up with another from the village, Hum Lae, who has gotten in trouble with some local thugs. Hum Lae promises to help Ting, but only after they deal with Hum Lae's debt and the mysterious shady man who hides behind a glass wall and has his hand on some artifacts.
As kung fu movies go, this one is a stunning example. In a world currently dazzled with wire-fu and long, invested imagery of colors, this one is much more simplistic and as a result, dirtier. Tony Jaa's martial arts are great not because he can spin around seven million times in a second, but because his moves are relatively simple and pack quite a punch. Nearly every hit in this movie looks like it hurts, and the action only gets more and more violent.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the action scenes are very cleverly built into the script, they're also a bit too long... not because they're never ending, but because the director felt the need to show every important move two or three times over again. Sometimes an action is finished, such as Ting splitting a biker's helmet with an elbow, and then it's shown again, and then again, all in slow motion. It really adds nothing to the movie and gets annoying and tedious.
Still, the tagline of this movie, "No stunt doubles, no computer images, no strings attached" definitely helps explain why most of the action in this film looks like it hurts. Together with a really involving story line, it's a film that's definitely worth the watch.