ONG BAK 2 is the much anticipated follow-up to the 2003 break-out film for Thai martial arts actor Tony Jaa, who went on to star in the ridonkulous flick THE WARRIOR, memorable principally for the fact that what inspired all the craziness was a stolen elephant.
The original ONG BAK film followed rural teen Ting on his quest to modern Bangkok to recover a stolen bust of Buddha. The narrative was pretty weak but there was awesome Muay Thai kickboxing fight scenes, and it was a all a nice change of pace from those CGI filled movies. ONG BAK 2 feels very different indeed. For a start, it's a very slick, high budget, lavish epic set in Ancient Thailand, and works less like a prequel as a primer for Western audiences as to what Muay Thai is all about. Tony Jaa plays a Tien. When he was a kid, bandits killed his family and threw him to the crocodiles. Tien's ability to survive impresses the local warlord so much that he adopted Tien and taught him how to fight. As an adult, Tien (Jaa) goes on the predictable revenge mission, which takes him through various fight scenes and sets up the inevitable ONG BAK 3.
Tony Jaa has clearly taken a lot of pains over the costumes, sets, photography and fight choreography. But a medieval forest is no match for the back-streets of Bangkok as a high-octane setting, and fans of the original flick might feel mis-sold. But, while the film seems less exciting than the original, it is certainly more technically impressive. The fight scenes - incorporating the best of Thai, Chinese, Japanese and European martial arts - are simply amazing. There's a scene where Tony Jaa is fighting while skipping over elephants and IT'S NOT CGI. What Jaa needs is to harness his slick moves to proper plots. And then we'd be in business.
Additional tags: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai, Sorapong Chatree, Saruny Wongkrachang, Nirut Sirihanya, Nattawut Kittikhun,
ONG BAK 2 was released in 2009 and will be released on DVD on February 15th 2010.