Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ong-bak: The Thai Warrior

Ong-bak is a Thai action/martial arts film with some of the best fighting scenes I've ever watched. Its main star, Tony Jaa, appears to perform all his own stunts, and every punch and kick is delivered with full impact. I have a feeling that many of the actors and stunt men had sore bodies after filming. If you're a fan of old school 80's fight movies, you've gotta see this one.

The best part is when all the bad guys chase the hero through the crowded streets. Our hero jumps through barbed wire, leaps over walls, and steps over the shoulders of the henchmen in order to evade them. And yes, there's lots of good fighting here. In fact, the movie is more than two-thirds fighting and action. Another good part is the fight club scene at the bar where Tony Jaa is forced to beat up colorful characters named 'Pearl Harbor' and 'Big Bear', reminiscent of Jean Claude Van Damme's Bloodsport.

The only shortcoming of this movie is that the fights get somewhat repetitive in the end. You see the same moves over and over again. The final battle scene is anticlimactic. When you get to it, you're so exhausted from all the action that you want to take a break.

Yes, there's a story here too. The protagonist, a lowly villager named Ting who has been trained in the art of Muay Thai fighting is tasked to recover the head of the Buddha which has been stolen from his village. Along the way he meets a scam artist named Dirty Balls and his sister Muay, who take advantage of his fighting abilities to make some extra money, as well as help him in the end against the bad guys. Muay, portrayed by a young Thai actress named Pumwaree Yodkamol, is one good-looking woman. Though she is portrayed here as a short-haired college-age tomboy with a somewhat irritating voice, she's the second best reason to watch this movie.

Rating: 4/5 * * * *
You want fights? This movie has it.


rmacapobre said...

remember we used to enjoy jackie chan kungfu revenge movies.

rob said...

I love martial arts revenge films. Especially the ones where there is an extended training scene. I used to watch every new one that came out while I was in college - Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Stallone, Jackie Chan, and even a lot of the lesser known stars.