Plot: Tien (Tony Jaa) is the son of a noble lord in medieval Thailand, after fleeing an attack on his family he is captured by slave traders and they force him to fight for his life against a blood thirsty crocodile. Tien is saved by an elite group of bandits, who take him under their wing and teaches him how to use various weapons and martial arts styles from the east.
When coming of age, Tien has mastered every style and accomplished any challenge presented. Tien returns back to his home to seek vengeance against the evil Lord that killed his father and murdered his family.
Review: Action icon Tony Jaa takes upon the role of direct in Ong Bak 2 (aka Ong Bak: The Beginning) and I have to say I see a big improvement already.
Ong Bak 2 has a story. No statue heads/elephants get stolen/kidnap; this movie has the classic Kung Fu revenge story. Family dead, son learns martial arts and son avenges his family. The common complaint will be that movie starts slow, we see a lot of back story on Tien as a child, his family send him to Dance school rather than letting him learn martial arts and weapons.
The movie does also contain a possible love interest subplot, during the childhood flashbacks we are introduced to a young girl called “Pim” (Primorata Dejudom), she is one of the students at the dance school and they kindle a friendship soon before Tien is taken.
This wouldn’t be a review of a Tony Jaa movie if I didn’t mention a paragraph or two about the movies action. I believe this is the first Tony Jaa movie where I believe the movie is driven by the story rather than the action. Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong are both 90 minute long show reels with paper thin storylines. The action carried those movies, Tony Jaa’s underground boxing matches drove Ong Bak and Tony Jaa ploughing his way through henchmen in an Aussie Restaurant drove Tom Yum Goong.
The action for this movie all comes at the last stage of the movie and it almost turns into a video game, starts off on the ground level, fights one guy, fights two, gets to next level, fights two more guys, the boss is on the top level, fight boss, get your ass kicked back to the bottom level etc. etc.
Tony looks great, each weapon he handles he easily looks like a skilled veteran. People maybe put off with the majority of sword fights there is compared to hand to hand combat, but it still got my adrenaline pumping. When it came to the hand to hand combat the martial arts Tony pulls off is amazing, we see a little drunken boxing, some variation of tiger/eagle claw and good old Muay Thai.
Outside of the action the movie relies on drama and comedy also has a cameo appearance in the form of Petchtai Wongkamlao as some crazy guy with a bracelet that Tien tricks. I certain that Petchtai discovered Tony and is now obligated to spoil all of Tony Jaa’s future movies.
The movie looks really authentic too I must mention. The costumes, the giant bamboo structured sets and make up is put to great effect. For once the hero doesn’t look like he’s just fallen out of a toothpaste commerical.
In conclusion, this movie rocks and it rocks even more with its heavy rock opera battle music!