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“There Will Be Blood: A Review of Ong Bak 2”

  By Sorradithep Supachanya / 2 January 2009
   
 

 

Ong Bak 2 continues the formula that has made the first Ong Bak and Tom-Yum-Goong (released in North America as The Protector), actor Tony Jaa’s two previous action flicks, such exploding successes: heavy on the action, light on the drama.

This is not to say that the movie is bad. On the contrary, it serves its target audience exactly what they want. Never mind the nonexistent plot, the abrupt ending, or the absence of any convincing emotional display from the actors, Ong Bak 2 only aims to deliver a non-stop, adrenaline-pumping violence, blood, and gore for its fans. And it succeeds marvelously.

The movie is nothing but a visual orgy of destruction that paradoxically transcends savagery to celebrate human physical prowess and especially Tony Jaa’s own martial arts talent. Here he masters sansetsukon, battles with Japanese swords, defeats his opponents with kung fu, and creatively blends Muay Thai with the traditional Thai khon dances. He falls through roofs, crashes into walls, and risks being trampled on by elephants as he hops on their heads as they run amok in a stampede. His stunts are death-defying and awe-inspiring, and they render all other weaknesses in the movie meaningless.

Ong Bak 2 tells a simple revenge story. Orphaned by a mutiny in a fifteenth century rural Thai village, Tien (Tony Jaa) is adopted by a pirate ringleader (veteran actor Sorapong Chatree) and trained in the arts of fighting of multiple disciplines. After his rite of passage, he sets out to find his parents’ murderer and avenge their deaths.

 

 

Filming of Ong Bak 2 suffered a setback earlier this year when Tony Jaa, who had taken director’s helm despite his studio’s protest, walked out of the set after more disagreements with the producers. His mentor and choreographer Panna Rittikrai helped resolve the conflict and assumed the directing role to finish production in time for a local holiday release. But the impact remains evident—the movie comes to screeching halt as it ends. But perhaps this is intentional as it leaves room for another sequel to this popular franchise (which in fact the studio announced after the movie broke local box office records). Opportunity exists in every crisis.

Ong Bak 2 may not exemplify what filmmakers can do but rather what a single actor can physically do without stunts and special effects. That man is Tony Jaa and his martial arts talent solely makes this otherwise mediocre action movie worth watching.

   
   

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