Oh my gawd! OMG OMG OMG!
That pretty much sums up this review.
There’s so much to love about this movie! But I bet part of is due to nostalgia...
“your eyes remind me of someone I once knew”
This movie reminds me of so many things…
: Orphaned prince, saved then raised by a bandit lord with his gang of ‘artisans’. Groomed to be the next bandit lord, he has some unfinished business to attend to before he assumes his new throne...
A tried and tested formula it may be but… that’s all the more reason to marvel at the brilliant execution.
This movie really allows Tony Jaa to shine, if he wasn’t luminescent to begin with. I used to think that he was ‘merely’ an accomplished muay thai fighter with agility to match but in this movie, his versality with styles and weapons really impresses me
And this time, it makes greater sense compared to tom yum goong.
Recall the scene where Jaa fights in a room of fire against an assortment of warriors-kung fu masters, capoiera experts etc. It’s entertaining, but then this uh, globalisation of martial arts comes off as awkward and jarred. It’s as though Tony’s character busted into an international martial arts conference!
As if realizing this mistake, to make sense of his all rounded abilities, this time young Jaa is trained by martial arts exponents assimilated into the bandit camp. You have a master of illusion, Chinese Kung Fu master (think Tiger claw, Crane style ), samurai sensei and a jiu-jitsu expert mentoring him. It’s a holy Sh*t moment when Jaa comes of age and kicks the collective butt of all his gurus. It’s extra special because you see him going up against people who are faster, bigger, stronger and he trumps them all the same. Holy cow!
No, make that holy pachyderms!
As always, the revered Siamese elephants get more than a cameo appearance. (Rumour has it that Jaa has two hand raised elephants!) A scene where Jaa fights around and about the elephant, using it as an both an obstacle course and a weapon is really fresh. Way to go man!
Now for the reasons of my nostalgia…
Tony brandishes the drunken fist, nunchaku,
samurai swords, parang, spears and staffs with exceptional expertise, turning his enemies’ weapons again themselves while getting hurt in the process (unlike the fist- proof Yip Man) He even uses a archaic chinese chained projectile weapon with a heavy weight at the end, a rarity on the silver screen.
All of these brings to mind all the martial arts movies I've ever watched... plus more... after the shades of Zhui Chuen, comes Samurai X(Rurouni Kenshin: Ishin Shishi no Requiem),
in which a rope attached to the sword sheath makes it useful projectile weapon
facets of Prince of Persia: Warrior within”,
the Chinese art of mask-changing
and Bleach the anime too! Keep your eyes peeled.
ah plus an element from the thai female Action movie Chocolate
(look out for the Raven guy)
But what’s a movie that is all brawn but no heart? Well the emotional aspect is one of the strong points of the movie. You really feel what the director wants you to empathize with.- the innocence of children, friendship, kinship, the sweet melody of a bangle, fear, distrust, lust and finally shocked anguish at the very end. The female lead is commendable for effectively portraying her emotions with nothing but her gaze.
From the artistic aspect,The brains behind the movie really hit the nail on the head with good camera-work and stylish muted scenes and suitable music scores I have a better understanding of traditional Thai dance, but somehow it reminds me of the indian dance, particularly the hands...
There you have it: brains, brawn, heart ...the combination that makes it a two thumbs and 2 toes up movie. I’m rather surprised at the ending but it is forgivable… considering that it is a cliffhanger for…. Wait for it….
ONG BAK 3.......I’M LOVIN IT!
-written at McDonald's Mid Valley- Enjoying a RM6.25 Chicken McNuggets Mcvalue meal!
p.s.- If Tony is given the chance for a more expressive role, he may one day be released from the curse that plagues all martial art movie stars... and hopefully that will stop people from comparing him with the wood that is Keanu. :-P
(picture taken from http://tonyjaa.blog.fr)
P.P.s.- Really, if you look forward to a better outing the next time Ong Bak comes to our shores, make sure the cast and crew gets paid handsomely by supporting the original version.