'Ong Bak Trilogy'
(Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Dan Chupongn, et al / DVD / R / 2014 / Magnolia Home Entertainment)
Overview: ONG BAK: When the head of a statue sacred to a village is stolen, a young martial artist goes to the big city and finds himself taking on the underworld to retrieve it. Stars Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol; ONG BAK 2: A young Thai boxer learns the skills and inner meaning of martial arts. Stars Tony Jaa, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Sorapong Chatree; ONG BAK 3: Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 had left off.
DVD Verdict: ONG BAK is a movie filled with incredible fight scenes, from the multitude of fights in the fighting circle, to that final fight in the cave. Most of the movie, in fact, was fight scenes, so you have to be ready to be amazed, simply put!
In truth, the whole point of Ong Bak was to display Tony Jaa's skill at martial arts, which is utterly incredible. Tony Jaa is the best martial artist I have had the pleasure of watching on the big screen. While the plot wasn't the most original, the introducing Tony Jaa's skill to the North American audience was done to perfection.
And for those against such movies, well, there is nothing wrong with a so-called "mindless" action movie; such as Ong-Bak! Just because it isn't some sort of drama, or another plot-saturated film, that doesn't mean it is garbage! While it may not have the best plot around, in terms of pure martial arts, this is the King. There is not a single martial arts movie out there that I have seen, that is more enjoyable than this movie - and I've seen a lot of martial arts movies!
ONG BAK 2 improves upon its predecessor in every conceivable way. The most obvious enhancements are the cinematography and set designs, which are phenomenal. The highlight sequence in this regard must be the night time dance, which emphasizes golden architecture and beautiful clothing that reminds one of the striking visuals that are showcased in Zhang Yimou's films.
All is not so clean, however, because the environments add a significant amount of authenticity with an unending assault of gritty, dirty, primal village imagery amidst the forests of Thailand.
Also, the martial arts choreography is just excellent. Is it as good as Tom Yum Goong in terms of quantity and precise movements? Probably not - but then again, Tom Yum Goong is virtually impossible to top in that regard. However, 'Ong Bak 2' does provide an impressive assortment of styles that are seamlessly integrated into the action. Jaa's character doesn't randomly switch between attack styles like some other people have said about this sequel, sorry!
ONG BAK 3 tells the story of when the cursed Lord Rajasena orders his warriors to beat up on and break the bones of Tien (Tony Jaa). When Tien is ready to be decapitated, a messenger from King Ayothaya arrives bringing a pardon and Tien is released and transported almost dead to Kana Khone village.
Master Bua heals Tien and teaches meditation to help him to resolve the issues of his Karma. While Tien recovers, the evil Bhuti Sangkha defeats Rajasena's soldiers and beheads the king to take his power and treasure. Bhuti self-proclaims king, initiating a kingdom of cruelties.
When Tien returns to Kana Khone, he finds the village destroyed and the villagers abducted. Now Tien has to fight against a powerful enemy to release his friends and stop the kingdom of fear of Bhuti Sangkha. These are all Widescreen Presentations (2:35.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.