Monday, October 19, 2009

Ong Bak 2



Film Review by Kam Williams


Headline: Tony Jaa Is “Bak” for Martial Arts Epic 


Ong Bak 2 is being billed as a prequel, which is technically true since the events in the movie do transpire before those in the original. However, the first installment was set in present-day Thailand and revolved around a boxer while the new film takes place in the 15th Century and features a 10 year-old prince as its protagonist.

                This costume drama is actually more reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than Ong Bak 1, for it is also an historical martial arts epic given to surrealistic flights of fantasy. But because of its substantially-smaller budget, OB-2 doesn’t quite measure up to Crouching Tiger in terms of cinematic breadth or majesty.

That being said, director Tony Jaa deserves credit for fashioning the stunt scenes in his revenge flick in the mold of a Bruce Lee classic. And he does double duty, here, reprising the role of Tien, only about 700 years earlier. At the point of departure he’s just a child, and his parents, Lord and Lady Sihadecho, are the provincial rulers during the reign of King Rama’s fading, feudal dynasty.

Tien’s entire family is massacred during a civil uprising, and the little orphan ends up sold to slave traders by the assassins. Not surprisingly, the boy not only grows up with vengeance in his heart, but begins training in a variety of martial arts disciplines. Fortunately, he meets a Mr. Miyagi-type to serve as his sensei until he reaches manhood.

What eventually ensues is a non-stop, ballet of orchestrated slaughter, with Tien eliminating innumerable enemies using a sword, a knife and a spear, along with his bare hands. He should thank his lucky stars that his adversaries are polite enough to attack one at a time, even the creep he sizzles alive by kicking into an enormous wok full of bubbling oil.

                Revenge as a dish best served tempura style.


Very Good (3 stars)

Rated R for graphic violence. 

In Thai with subtitles.

Running time: 93 minutes

Studio: Magnet Releasing

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