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Overall Rating
4.28

Awesome50%
Worth A Look: 38.64%
Average: 4.55%
Pretty Bad: 3.41%
Total Crap: 3.41%

7 reviews, 46 user ratings


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Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
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by Jay Seaver

"Let's see that again!"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2004 BOSTON FANTASTIC FILM FESTIVAL: A convenient rule of thumb for grading action movies is that when an actor is willing to light his clothing on fire in order to create an exciting scene, it's a good sign. It shows a certain amount of dedication that you don't see in a lot of American movies, where action stars are seldom even willing to light their stuntmen on fire, which generally carries through to the other action scenes.

There's a plot to this movie, but it's kind of silly and unimportant: A Bangkok drug dealer has stolen the head of "Ong-bak", a small Thai village's Buddha statue that is involved in a ceremony that only takes place every 24 years and there's bad luck if it's missed. Fortunately, the world's stupidest drug dealer actually left his name and contact information with one of the villagers, so Ting, a local man studying to be a monk (and who is also skilled at Muay Thai boxing), volunteers to go to the city to find it. Aside from his cousin Hum Lae (calling himself "George") and Hum Lae's girlfriend, Bangkok also contains an assortment of tough guys standing between Ting and his statue. Ting must - reluctantly! - kick their butts.

And, oh, how he does. He kicks their butts in a club frequented by local crime lords that features no-rules boxing, on the street, in a cave, wherever local goons can be found. Tony Jaa, who plays Ting, is amazingly athletic and ridiculously skilled, and as with many of the other great martial arts stars, his action scenes are shot medium distance and without much cutting so that you can see, yeah, he did in fact just do that. A lot of blows are followed up with instant replay from another angle as if to assure you that, nope, there's no trick photography going on. Jaa doesn't get a lot of dialogue or character development to showcase any acting chops - that's left to the supporting/comic relief characters. He is handsome and doesn't seem to be reading off cue cards, though, so there's not much reason to bet against him becoming a movie star, at least in martial arts circles.

There are several good action scenes, although my favorite is when a gang of thugs Hum Lae has annoyed chases Ting and his cousing through the street. This being a martial-arts movie, the street is crowded to overflowing with street merchants, open-air eateries, cars, animals, deliveries being made (including a large loop of barbed wire, highly breakable glass, a basketful of sharp objects, and the like). Jaa leaps over cars, onto tables, through the loop of barbed wire. He runs on top of people's heads, and then when surrounded drops three or four goons before starting back up. Hum Lae can't come close to keeping up, but he appears to get the upper hand on his pursuers for a moment... Until the knife saleswoman shows up. The whole thing is a fast-paced, funny sequence that just works as pure entertainment.

Another thing writer/director Prachya Pinkaew pulls off well is escalating the stakes. Yes, a lot of the earlier fight scenes are funny, Jackie Chan-style romps (including a fun sequence involving an armada of extremely unstable three-wheeled taxis), but by the end, bones are being broken as the fights continue in deadly earnest. Nice job of doing it without there seeming to be much of a discontinuity.

Ong-Bak is action, pure and simple. Come and be amazed at what this guy can do.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10741&reviewer=371
originally posted: 10/20/04 06:47:50
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Fantastic Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Fantastic Film Festival series, click here.
Trilogy Starters: For more in the Trilogy Starters series, click here.

User Comments

11/25/09 Alex Thorne Truly Brutal, and all the better for it. inspired coreography 5 stars
11/12/09 Albert Valentin Jaa definitely showcases his raw sheer talent with no CGI or wirework. Great star debut. 5 stars
3/16/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess One of the best martial arts movies ever! 5 stars
9/20/07 Johnnyfaye if you didn't like this movie, then you shouldn't have went to see it. Awesome Genre film 5 stars
8/10/07 Bruce Tri I see Tom Yum Goong is amazing and outstanding, He must have a chance like Bruce Lee place 5 stars
7/19/07 marita he's just beautiful, I love him 5 stars
3/02/07 Dark Enchatress Tony Jaa is killer! Great movie!!! 5 stars
12/20/06 Dark Enchantress Great Movie! Great moves! Great everything! 5 stars
11/09/06 Jason Amazing fight scenes!!!!! There was a plot! 5 stars
10/26/06 AJ Muller some of the finest fight scenes ever filmed; Tony Jaa is phenomenal 5 stars
8/23/06 Quigley The fights alone are worth your time. Skip it if you want a good plot. Tony Jaa is awesome 5 stars
6/14/06 drydock54321 nice fight scenes but kind of dull 2 stars
2/21/06 Vega WOW 5 stars
10/10/05 JeromeBosch He should have killed the loud whiney bitch. 5 stars
10/09/05 K. Sear Thin on plot but Tony Jaa has some absolutely amazing moves!!! 4 stars
9/28/05 Phil Good kick-boxer, looses head and has to run and jump over lots of things. Ouch - arm!! 3 stars
9/13/05 bbbr totally suck 1 stars
9/12/05 Bloodclot Great stunts...too bad the rest of the movie was absolute poop. 1 stars
9/10/05 Zaharin Bin Abdul Razak Superb action movie despite negligible story 5 stars
9/04/05 Zaharin Bin Abdul Razak Bad screenplay and bad acting. Fight scenes were shit too. 2 stars
9/04/05 Christine Hosie not that good,overhyped,good fighting scenes but a bit boring storywise 3 stars
8/28/05 Tom Burns Tony Jaa is just amazing. Jawdropping action. 5 stars
8/27/05 Rever_Bear-Trap Tony Jaa is inevitabily going to be the next Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan & Jet Li rolled into 1! 5 stars
5/10/05 George Adams Get rid of the boring bits 4 stars
3/15/05 Las Great 5 stars
3/09/05 Los Daddy Knees and Elbows Everywhere...Loved It 5 stars
3/08/05 malcolm disappointing 2 stars
3/03/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! TONI JAA LICKS ASS!!! 1 stars
2/28/05 Marc Basque Holy fucking badass man. 4 stars
2/21/05 Ja Rule Jaa Rules 5 stars
2/20/05 ajay funny and entertaining, but it's pretty cookie-cutter, nothing to "ground breaking" 3 stars
2/18/05 Fahad Pinto great skills 5 stars
2/16/05 Maalstrom Great Action and skeleton plot makes for a very fun movie. 4 stars
2/16/05 jeff who needs plot in a martial arts movie??? 5 stars
2/15/05 somm good actors 5 stars
2/14/05 Gray incredible action! 5 stars
2/12/05 Kenneth Flickstein Amazing martial arts ability... only one finishing move used over and over. No real plot. 3 stars
12/22/04 Jackson A real action movie that entertains 5 stars
12/11/04 moviegoer wipes the floor with HK and Hollywood action movies 5 stars
12/04/04 Maroth Phan This movie is totally awesome 5 stars
11/27/04 jeba rocks! my fav scene is where tin jumps and attacks don with his knees to break the helmet! 5 stars
11/22/04 CJ Quach I've seen many martial arts movies, and I must comment that this is one of the best/ 5 stars
11/12/04 Karess !100% action, amazing!!!!! 5 stars
11/07/04 Gaijin84 By far the best martial arts movie in 10 years. 5 stars
11/06/04 George The most amazing pure action martial arts movie ever - no wires no trick photography. 5 stars
9/18/04 JC awesome fighting and stunts 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Feb-2005
  DVD: 30-Aug-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Mar-2005




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