Blu-Ray Review: Tony Jaa’s ‘Ong Bak’ Films in HD

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CHICAGO – Even casual fans of the martial arts genre would be blown away by the action of the legendary Tony Jaa in “Ong Bak 2: The Beginning”. The drama of the piece is a little disappointing, but the action is ridiculously consistent and entertaining. The sequel along with the original 2005 “Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior” are now available on Blu-ray.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

Tony Jaa totally kicks ass. There are rumors that he lost his mind in the Cambodian jungle while making “Ong Bak 2” but the film that resulted features an international star at the top of his particular game. Ultimately, “Ong Bak 2” is a bit frustrating due to a lack of narrative tissue but the fight sequences are simply amazing, especially in HD. These are some of the most rivetingly choreographed martial arts of not just this year, but the last several. Jaa is more than just a fighter; he’s a force of nature.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Photo credit: Magnolia Home Video

Jaa stars and co-directs “Ong Bak 2: The Beginning,” which you might think would be a prequel to his breakthrough “Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior,” also recently released on Blu-ray, but it’s not really. They have nothing to do with each other outside of their style and their star.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Photo credit: Magnolia Home Video

“Ong Bak 2” takes place five centuries ago and opens with a child named Tien (later played by Tony Jaa) being torn from his family as he watches his family brutally murdered. Tien survives a fight with a giant crocodile only to be taken in by a group of thieves who help him plot his revenge. He becomes a Knight of the regime of the Lord who killed his family and infiltrates his inner circle. Along the way, he learns an amazing hand-to-hand and weapons-based fighting system along the way and even kicks some elephant ass. Yes, I said elephant ass.

Plotwise, “Ong Bak 2” is a bit of a snooze. The enemies are countless and personality-less almost to comedic effect and the characters aren’t developed in the slightest. Now, this is arguably not a bad thing considering the stupid plots that often weigh down martial arts films. The piece has more actual fighting than most modern martial arts movies and it all ranges from pretty good to jaw-dropping. One of the final sequences takes place on TOP of an elephant and really should be seen by any fan of the genre.

“Ong Bak 2: The Beginning” features a martial arts star who is more of a physical force than an actual actor. Jaa doesn’t yet have the personality or acting skills of someone like Jet Li or Jackie Chane. He’s made a film that supports his physical on-screen presence.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010.
Photo credit: Magnolia Home Video

Special features on “Ong Bak 2: The Beginning”:

o Ong Bak 2 - Alternate Cut
o Making-of Featurettes
o The Story and the Character of an Epic
o Revealing the Majesty
o The Art of War
o Behind the Scenes Featurettes
o Capturing a Warrior
o The Kingdom
o The Community
o Interviews with Cast and Crew, including Co-Director/Actor Tony Jaa
o HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 2
o Ong Bak 3 - Exclusive Footage
o International Trailer
o U.S. Trailer

Special features on “Ong Bak”:

o The Movements of Muay Thai
o Rap Music Video with Tony Jaa
o Live Tony Jaa Performance
 

‘Ong Bak 2: The Beginning’ is released by Magnolia Home Video and stars Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree, and Sarunyu Wungkrajang. It was written by Ek Iemchuen and directed by Jaa & Panna Rittikrai. It was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 2nd, 2010. It is rated R.

‘Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior’ is released by Magnolia Home Video and stars Tony Jaa, Mum Jokmok, and Pumwazhee Yookamol. It was written by Suphachai Settiaumponpan and directed by Prachya Pinkaew. It was released on Blu-ray on February 2nd, 2010. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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