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  Ong Bak 2  

(left) Tony Jaa delivers some punishment, and (right) Jaa tames the elephants in Ong Bak 2..
Year: 2008  
Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai  
Producer: Panna Rittikrai  

Tony Jaa, Nirut Sirichanya, Sorapong Chatree, Janista Choochuaisuwan, Primrata Dej-Udom, Tim Man, Patthama Panthong, Santisuk Promsiri, Pongpat Wachirabunjong, Mum Jokmok (Petchtai Wongkamlao), Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Dan Chupong, Supakorn Kitsuwon

The Skinny: Story-wise, Ong Bak 2 is as routine as you can imagine, but the action more than compensates. As an action star, Tony Jaa is currently without peer, and Ong Bak 2 serves up enough surprise, impact and style to satiate any fan of martial arts cinema. The ending is a little disappointing, though.  
by Kozo:
Ong Bak 2's production did not go smoothly. Reportedly, star/director Tony Jaa went Colonel Kurtz on his crew, disappearing from the Thai jungle set for a few months until action director and mentor Panna Rittikrai came on board to finish the film. Such tales of behind-the-scenes chaos usually lend themselves to reduced if not poor expectations, and fittingly, Ong Bak 2 feels far from a complete film. The story features numerous details and characters that are barely explored, and any driving plot is ultimately subjugated to an action climax that ends in an unexpected cliffhanger - a narrative decision that was apparently made to complete the film on time. As a start-to-finish narrative work, Ong Bak 2 is a resounding disappointment. Basically, what exists outside the action sequences is not really worth talking about.

So, putting all that aside, let's talk about the action sequences, which are as impressive as you're likely to find nowadays. Ong Bak 2 features plenty of punching and peril from Tony Jaa, who does many things that you've seen before - and also a few things that you probably haven't. Aside from clambering around on the backs of some running elephants, Jaa brandishes a variety of weapons and practices several martial arts styles. Jaa plays Tien, an orphaned prince who is taken in by a group of bandits, who proceed to turn him into the most dangerous man ever. He's trained in numerous martial arts from Thailand, Japan, China - you name it, they teach it to Tien, and he's pretty damn good at everything he learns. Tien even shows off some drunken boxing - though that, like most of the martial arts styles on display, seem to be present solely to give Tony Jaa a chance to impress the fanboys. Narratively, it's all rather needless.

Whoops, that's talking about story again, and really, Ong Bak 2's is as unimaginative and routine as you can get. Tien was orphaned thanks to smarmy, backstabbing authority figures and a masked killer who's basically Ong Bak 2's Darth Vader. Tien also has a childhood sweetheart who makes a brief appearance as an adult before she's unceremoniously forgotten. At the same time, the film introduces the "Crow Ghost", played by Dan Chupong (Dynamite Warrior). The character shows up for a brief scene to dazzle with his black magic-tainted martial arts skills, before he too takes off and about thirty more guys come running out of the jungle to take on Tony Jaa. The whole film seems arranged simply to provide new and more impressive ways for Jaa to fight - which he does, handily and with few emotions besides anger. By the way, Jaa doesn't even speak until a full hour into the film. Before that, it's an entirely physical performance consisting of, well, ass-kicking. It's that type of movie.

Which is more than fine because we could all use movies like this once in a while. And besides, they're better this way than marred by the pseudo-deep storylines of your standard action star vehicles. Tony Jaa films are not about performances or story, but about pure physical ability, and anything besides that - including acting or actual emotion - is a bonus. In that, the movie more than satisfies, as Jaa and Rittikrai convey the excitement and even the danger of Jaa's stuntwork and action abilities to the audience. There's plenty here to wow action fans, and Jaa more than convinces as a badass warrior who possesses less than ten lines of dialogue. The cliffhanger ending prevents the film from being truly satisfying, but during the action sequences, that shouldn't matter. Really, that's all there is to Ong Bak 2. When Ong Bak 3 (scheduled for 2009 production) finally comes out, hopefully the filmmakers will tie up the scores of loose ends that Ong Bak 2 generated, including the lingering issues with Tien's family, lineage and childhood sweetheart. And if those things don't work out, there'll probably be some action to make up for it. (Kozo 2009)

Availability: DVD (Korea)
Region 3 NTSC
KD Media
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Thai Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Korean Subtitles
*Also Available on Blu-ray Disc
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