First, a confession: Going into these featured clips of “Ong Bak 2: The Beginning,” I knew nothing of the “Ong Bak” films or of its lead attraction Tony Jaa. Yet said clips from Jaa’s new martial arts picture — a prequel to 2003’s “Ong Bak” — have me interested.
The film’s story revolves around the vengeful Tien (played by Jaa), a martial artist combining several martial arts styles in his fighting, who we find setting out on a mission of payback against the slave traders who previously enslaved him as a child and the warlord Rajasena responsible for Tien’s father’s death.
With an entire army behind Lord Rajasena, it looks like Tien’s going to need those fight skills of his.
The clips find Jaa’s Tien pretty much kicking ass and taking names, showcasing the excellent martial arts skills Jaa’s known for as well as what appears to be some pretty good filmmaking showmanship. The fight between Tien, the lead character of “Ong Bak 2,” and his numerous opposition is shot sublimely and performed spectacularly, the choreography seeming perfectly matched to the bronze-tinged cinematography of this brief glimpse.
The clips actually reminded me a bit of Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” in its marriage of easy-on-the-eyes visuals and hectic on-screen fighting, while word-of-mouth suggests the remainder of the film is as energized and well-lensed as this appetizer. That either suggests a movie that doesn’t pause for thought or one that exists as this type of movie should: to entertain on an adrenaline-fuelled level.
Personally, I hope the skill of director and star Jaa, and of co-director and writer Panna Rittikrai, is good enough to match what this clip suggests. Having been ignorant of the “Ong Bak” series last week, I’m now hopeful of watching these films.
“Ong Bak 2” is on limited release in the U.S. from Oct. 23, and has been on release in the U.K. since Oct. 16.
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