Ong Bak - Muay Thai Warrior

Ong Bak - Muay Thai Warrior
Cast: Tony Jaa, Petchthai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol, Rungrawee Borrijindakul, Chetwut Wacharakun, Wannakit Siriput, Sukhaaw Phongwilal
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rated: MA 15+ medium level violence, drug use
Running Time: 104 Minutes
In Thai with English subtitles

No Computer Graphics. No Stunt Doubles. No Strings Attached.

In a poor village in rural Thailand the Nong Pra-du temple houses the sacred statue of Ong Bak. The villagers believe that Ong Bak has magical powers that keep them safe and prosperous. One night, former villager Don cuts off and steals the head of Ong Bak to gain favour with crime boss Khom Tuan.

Without the head of Ong Bak - the village will fall into ruin. All hopes for survival now rest on the shoulders of orphan villager Ting - a reluctant but gifted Muay Thai boxer who must travel to the seedy streets of Bangkok and fight for the life of his village.

My Verdict:
'Ong Bak' is no ordinary martial arts film. This is a film where what you see is what you get, and as the tagline tells - no computer graphics, no stunt doubles and no strings attached which almost sounds too good to be true but seeing is believing and this is one hell of a movie -and that's coming from someone who is not a martial arts fan.

What makes 'Ong Bak' so extraordinary is Tony Jaa. This 25-year-old is quite simply incredible with his athleticism, his strength and his power. In 'Ong Bak' Tony plays Ting, an orphan villager who has been trained by the local monk in the art of Muay Thai: 'Nine Body Weapons', but is told not to use it to harm anyone. After the head of his villages' sacred statue of Ong Bak is stolen by a former villager and whisked away to Bangkok, Ting is chosen to recover it. On arrival in Bangkok, Ting finds that the head is in the possession of local gang boss, Khom Than and discovering the actual location of the head is going to be a hard task. Enlisting the help of ex-villager, the comic George (Petchthai Wongkamlao) and his female sidekick Muay Lek (Pumwaree Yodkamol), Ting proceeds to engage in boxing fights, street chases and even an almost hysterically funny taxi (tuk tuk) chase, to eventually discover that the head is in a cave near the Thai/Burma border.

Tony Jaa always wanted to be involved in some sort of boxing and has been training since a very young boy, moving onto stunt work in films and eventually the lead in 'Ong Bak'. His skills are astonishing -in one scene, during a street chase, after jumping over numerous cars with considerable ease, a 4WD is strategically placed which is too high for him to jump over, so he does the splits and slides underneath, gets up and continues on as if it the car wasn't even there. It is moments like these that really make 'Ong Bak' one out of the box. The fight sequences are awesome, jaw dropping and simply incredible, with some shown from more than one angle, over and over, maybe just to impress.

Thin on plot and character development, 'Ong Bak' is still a movie that is a must see for any martial arts fan and possibly a must see for anyone who isn't, just to see the amazing Tony Jaa at work, or is that play?

Rating : B

Christina Bruce