The following review may contain spoilers in order to accurately analyze and rate the film.
Tony Jaa plays Tien, a village boy who goes to Bangkok to retrieve a stolen Buddha head. What? Why are you still reading? That’s it.
1 fist (hey, it’s not ½)
Choreography/ Action directing
Obviously this is the reason why people watch this film. The action takes some people back to the “good ol days.” Tony Jaa makes people’s mouths (not jaws, or Jaas!) drop open with the moves he executes. He is clearly a master at his art, which is Muay Thai. You will see a lot of elbows and knees in going into people. If you are reading this review, you probably know about some of the highlights of the action : no stunt doubles, no wires, and no speeding up the fights. This means that you get raw, real action.
This movie is filmed like an 80’s Hong Kong movie. The camera is pulled back enough so that you can see the entire body of each actor. Also, the camera isn’t acting like a child that just had chugged a red bull and Mountain Dew cocktail, so you can really see the action. The stuntmen deserve just as much credit as Tony. Anyone willing to take an elbow to the face to make someone else look good is amazing. Some say that Ong-Bak is more like a demo reel than anything, but it’s still refreshing to see new and exciting moves captured on film. This is a movie you’ll be rewinding to see certain moves one more time.
All kidding aside, I know I was kinda hard on the story. Yes, I know a Buddha head is very religious, but it doesn’t transfer well. What does transfer is Tony’s physical ability. There is no denying the fact that Tony Jaa is not someone you wanna steal from, ever. Even when he is taking hits, his training as a stuntman really shines. I have never seen such amazing ways to get clotheslined. As a debut film, this movie is the best. I don’t really get Thai humor, or the pride they have (one guy is wearing a Thailand shirt later on in the movie) but who cares? This movie does what it intended to do, make audiences notice Tony Jaa, compete with the heavy hitters, and get blacklisted from every insurance company available. Definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen it yet.
Here’s a little something I came across for your viewing pleasure.