Ong-Bak (2003)

ongbak

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Thai action cinema gets its calling with this action packed film that unleashes the man known as Tony Jaa.

Ong-Bak is a small village where the townsfolk follow and worship a sacred statue of the same name. One of the most respected young men in the village is Ting, a young fighter who was abandoned as a baby only to be taken in by an elderly lady. Ting trained in the art of Muay Thai under the wing of the chief abbot of the temple and has excelled himself to be a top notch fighter. However, Ting is about to go on his most dangerous adventure yet.

When the head of the Ong-Bak statue is stolen by a ruthless artifacts dealer, Ting volunteers himself to head to Bangkok to retrieve the head so the people can be safe once again in Ong-Bak. Upon arriving in Bangkok, Ting meets con artist George, who he believes was once living in Ong-Bak. When George decides to con Ting out of his money in order to bet on an underground match, Ting follows him when he is forced to take on underground fighter Pearl Harbor. With one crushing blow, Pearl Harbor is knocked out and Ting becomes the champion.

It is not long before it is revealed that Ting has cost crime boss Ngai to lose a lot of money and it is him who masterminded the robbery of the Ong-Bak statue head. As George decides to help Ting retrieve the statue head, the two get themselves mixed with the wrong crowd, forcing Ting to utilize his fighting skills when necessary. He finds his toughest opponent in Ngai’s right hand man Saming, who defeats Ting in a muay thai match for money. However, when Ting and George learn where the statue head is hidden, they proceed to find the statue and stop Ngai and his men once and for all, no matter what it takes.

Welcome to the world of Thai action. Here, the plot may be routine but this film is all about action. Ever since word got out that this film would be using the authentic style of muay thai kickboxing, fans have been waiting patiently and sometimes, impatiently, to see this film. Well, you will get more than just muay thai in this film. You will also be treated to some of the most amazing acrobatic stuntwork ever filmed, courtesy of the film’s star Tony Jaa and his mentor, the late stuntmaster Panna Rittikrai. The stuntman/actor performs all of his own stunts in the film, and he shows that he does things that not even Jackie Chan or any Hong Kong stuntman for that matter has done or even tried to attempt. In one of the many highlight action sequences, Tony performs all acrobatic stunts during a chase scene as he jumps over sharp objects, jumps (not dive) through a ring of barbed wire, and jumps on the shoulder of 5 people…all without the use of wires or CGI effects.

There is a bit of comic relief in the film, courtesy of Thai comedian Pethctai Wongkumlao. Since seeing him in the hilarious action comedy Killer Tattoo, I knew that he would bring his comedic style in this film and during the chase sequence, it shows. But the real star here is Tony Jaa, who uses the authentic art of muay thai and an ancient form of that art called mai mae. Futhermore, the fighters are really hitting each other, not faking hits like you sometimes see in movies. We’re talking real hitting here and in the making of the film, even Tony Ja got hurt during a series of leg checks against Nudhapol Asavhakin, who plays a Japanese superkicker. It is this brand of dedication that makes this one of the best action films to watch today.

If you have not seen it yet, I don’t care you do it, you must see Ong-Bak as soon as possible!!! A top notch action film with amazing stuntwork and real hitting…A must see!!!!

WFG RATING: A

Sahamongkol Film International presents a Baa-Ram-Ewe production. Director: Prachya Pinkaew. Producers: Akarapol Techaratanaprasert, Prachya Pinkaew, and Sukanya Vongsthapat. Writer: Suphachai Sittiaumponpan; story by Panna Rittikrai and Prachya Pinkaew. Cinematography: Nattawut Kittikhun. Editing: Thanat Sunsin, Thanapat Taweesuk, and Nonthakorn Thaweesuk.

Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol, Suchao Pongwilai, Chattapong Phantanakul, Wannakit Siriput, Chetwut Watcharakhun, Rungrawee Barijindakul, Pornpimol Chookanthong, Nick Kara, Erik Markus Schuetz, David Ismalone, Nudhapol Asavhakin.

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