Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior

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Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Tony Jaa, Petchthai Wongkamlao, Pumwaree Yodkamol

Director: Prachya Pinkaew

If you created a combination of young versions of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li you would probably come up with Tony Jaa. This movie acts as a perfect showcase for his long list of skills. He plays a young, aspiring monk called Ting living in a small village in Thailand where the inhabitants all worship Ong-Bak, their local deity represented by a simple statue. Everything is calm until someone steals the head of their beloved Ong-Bak. Ting immediately offers to go and retrieve it from wherever it may be. He ends up going against a drugs and illegal goods cartel not only for Ong-bak and his own survival but also for the heritage of his country.

Prachya Pinakew apparently made this movie specifically for Tony Jaa after he saw a demo reel of him in action. This probably explains why the script seems like it could have done with better character development. The one area that this film scores twenty out of ten in is the brutal fight and stunt scenes all handled with no CGI or wire works by Tony Jaa. This man is quite simply a martial arts phenomenon. He does it all from expertly and brutally executed fight techniques that make you wince just from watching them, to gravity defying stunts that will leave you thrilled, shocked and amazed all at once. There are several fight scenes, so the average fight fan will get more than enough value for money. The simple, yet solid integrity of the main character ought to inspire anybody, so in other words you do not have to be a hardened martial arts fan to enjoy this movie, anybody old enough should enjoy it. I say old enough because its age restriction is quite high due to the frighteningly realistic fight scenes. Watch out for the scene where some crazy guy picks up a refrigerator and tries to attack Ting, trust me when I say that it turns out to be a big mistake, also the final fight scene brings a whole new feeling to the sound of a nut cracking.

This is one film not to be missed, an innocently brutal fight fest of the highest order. Tony Jaa is the new ferocious star of martial arts.

4 out of 6 stars