Martial Development

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Ong Bak 2 Review (with Exclusive Video Previews)

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Tony Jaa in 'Ong Bak 2'

Warning: This post contains spoilers.

With more than two years spent in filming and production, Ong Bak 2 presents Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa’s attempt at an action masterpiece. Jaa shares writing and directing credits, in addition to his leading role as the slave-turned-rebel-hero Tian.

Tony Jaa leads the elephants

The Ong Bak 2 story is not related in any way to Tony Jaa’s breakout hit, Ong Bak. Despite what you may have heard, it is not a sequel, or a prequel. Nor should it be confused with The Protector (a.k.a. Tom Yum Goong), the 2005 release which some overeager Tony Jaa fans previously and informally titled as Ong Bak 2. Are you confused yet? If not, just wait until you watch the movie.

As of this writing, the official DVD has been released only in Thailand, with Thai dialogue. You can order it online, from sources such as eBay. Hardcore kung fu movie buffs can download the unofficial subtitles, or “fansubs”, and burn them onto the DVD using their home computer. Still harder-core movie lovers can watch it with no English dialogue. (See update below.)

Here is my short synopsis of the plot:

Crocodile pit, Ong Bak 2

  • Tian is the young son of a 15th century Thai general. Betrayed by rebel lord Rajasena, Tian’s family is murdered. Tian escapes, only to be captured by slave traders, and sent to an almost certain death in a muddy crocodile pit.
  • Cher Nang, head of a local pirate guild, witnesses Tiang’s bravery, and rescues him from the traders. The pirates train Tian in various styles of martial arts, and after a few years he becomes their greatest champion. But Tian is not ready to assume the role as pirate leader, until he has settled scores with the slave traders and the tyrant rebel lord.
  • In an ill-prepared act of vengeance, he attacks Rajasena directly. After much bloodshed, Rajasena’s forces capture Tian, promising him a slow and painful death…to come in Ong Bak 3?

Khon dance

Tony Jaa and his team have once again raised the bar for fight choreography. His execution, as always, was outstanding. And if shooting and editing were not exactly good in Ong Bak 2, they were good enough.

Unfortunately, he is at the same time lowering the bar for other essential elements of filmmaking, such as well-developed characters and a coherent unfolding of the plot. Frankly, a few of the scenes in this movie made no sense whatsoever, and I expect they will be cut from the official international DVD release.

Tony Jaa tries crane style

With Ong Bak 2, Tony Jaa attempts to demonstrate three lifetimes worth of martial expertise in a ninety minute show, and he is surprisingly successful. Jaa displays comfort with the Japanese katana and Chinese rope dart; his jujitsu- and silat-inspired drunken boxing is fun to watch. Only his rendition of animal kung fu styles—snake, crane, and tiger—was unconvincing.


Tony Jaa’s drunken boxing


Tony Jaa’s Hung Gar?

As a fighter, Tian faces no serious competition in Ong Bak 2. He knocks down hordes of enemies, and even his own kung fu instructors with a wearying ease. And since the film is basically one extended fight scene, this lack of dramatic tension is a serious flaw. Despite the monumental effort put into this action movie, it is less exciting than Ong Bak 1, Tom Yum Goong or even Chocolate.

Ong Bak 3

After the success of its Thai theater release in 2008, Ong Bak 3 has already started production. Overall, Ong Bak 2 is one of the better martial arts movies ever made—but not in my personal top ten list.

Update: The English-language Ong Bak 2 DVD is now available from Amazon.

Categories: Reviews · Video

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Michelle de Vries // Apr 1, 2009

    I’ve not seen any of these Ong Bak movies. Having read your review of the second in the series, I think I’ll give them a miss. Thank you for saving me some time :)

  • 2 RickMatz // Apr 1, 2009

    I saw the first one and loved the action. I’m looking forward to this one as well. Thanks!

  • 3 Krista // Apr 3, 2009

    Great clips. I like some of the fight scenes in the first movie too. Though from the sound of things maybe I don’t need to watch Ong Bak 2 now.

    I just finished watching Kuro Obi (Black Belt). While it also doesn’t rank in my top 10, I do like the short understated fight scenes.

    If, like me, you want to skip the long and drawn out plot you can watch a couple of the clips and some behind the scenes footage here.

  • 4 masteringwushu.com // Apr 3, 2009

    Great to know the movie is finally out after all the controversy during the making. Tony Jaa has re-invented himself from the heavy use of Thai boxing, stunts and acrobatics into a whole array of Chinese Wushu style and weapons. The movie is darker too, with lots of fight scenes, can’t wait to see it on the big screen!

  • 5 Sajeev // Apr 24, 2009

    Jai Hanuman

    We love Tony jaa here in India!!

    Hope that the next part does no take too long and is released every were with subtitles too!

  • 6 S.Smith // Apr 29, 2009

    Wow. Thanks for the clips. It’s impressive.

  • 7 Jewel // Jun 2, 2009

    I saw the film..
    Not bad..
    But film is nly 90 minutes long..
    Think ong bak 3 wil be released soon..
    Patiently waitin 4 it..
    Tony Jaa rules..

  • 8 Josh Young // Jun 26, 2009

    I saw Ong Bak 1 and 2 yesterday. I liked the second one far more than the first.

  • 9 rakesh roy // Jun 29, 2009

    it is one of my favourite movie

  • 10 loghman // Jul 27, 2009

    Hi
    I want ongbak3
    can you co me?

  • 11 jacob // Aug 1, 2009

    for all who believe in reviews,

    dont always go with reviews & see the must see film like this.

    brilliant & I cant wait for part III.

  • 12 Jim // Sep 8, 2009

    I’ve seen Ong Bak 2 several times and I’m very impressed by it. Jaa displays incredible martial prowess in the film using quite a few styles convincingly. His Wing Chun is very good. I love the 3-section staff scene.

    In my opinion, the movie is one of the best martial arts movies of all time. The story is very interesting and the cinematography is very good. It is dark and impressive.

  • 13 asgher // Oct 19, 2009

    dont read reviews watch the damn thing ur self and u be the judge! this is one of the best martial arts films of all times.period.who ever watched these films for plot development or character its all about the fightin and tony jaa kicks ass left right and fucking centre!!!!…

  • 14 xino // Oct 21, 2009

    Everyone who were disappointed by this movie did not understand sh*!

    First of all, Ong Bak 2 is a sequel or should I say prequel to Ong Bak, hence the damn name Ong Bak. Only half a retard wouldn’t get this!

    Ong Bak 2 tells the story of the person who began the use of martial arts. Ong Bak 2′s story may not be deep (reason people are complaining). But the story is unfolding!

    Obviously in Ong Bak 3, more story will be unfolded, how the master of Ting from Ong Bak learnt the muai thai deadly move.
    People seriously don’t pay attention to movies and yet they act as if they know when they see a movie with good storyline.

    Story for Ong Bak 2 is good, it doesn’t explain much yet. Think of the key words: Ong Bak, Dam…(great grand master of Ting), budha, Muay Thai.
    Obviously Tein will die and his soul/karma/martial arts will pass on, or onto a statue Ong Bak.

    The ending for the Thai subtitle was stupid, it said something about everyone should pray for Tien and let fate decide. WHile the UK version said something about his cursed karma.

    Martial Arts action? 10/10 This is the best martial arts movie, better than Fist of Legend! Tony Jaa used different types of martial arts and weapons! The way he did the Monkey move and Snake fist was wrong though, Tony didn’t act like those type of animals. But you have to remember that this is ancient Thailand. None of these things were fully developed, even look at the way those ninja dressed.

  • 15 IM1 // Dec 17, 2009

    This is probably the best martial arts movie ever. The reviewer is a tosser who thinks its not one of the top ten movies. Let me guess, his favourite movie must be crouching tiger hidden dragon., which I can’ t stand.

    This movie mesmerises the audience.

  • 16 kico55 // Mar 23, 2010

    link to down…. the ongbak3 dvdripfull best q video !!!!

    in
    ==
    http://www.kickasstorrents.com/search/ong-bak-3/

  • 17 wiz // Oct 31, 2010

    u have clearly lost your mind … the action sequences in this movie are some of the best to be captured in film except the witch fights. this movie was awesome and much better than any of that classical Chinese and Japanese shit with all the flying people and crappy wire work.

  • 18 JaaFan // Jul 9, 2012

    Tony Jaa is hands down the best new martial artist on film. He is ‘on stage’ with Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jacki Chan. Any one who doesn’t appreciate his skills knows nothing of martial Arts and are only Movie watchers. I can’t wait for him to get his English down and start making movies over here on the West Side.

  • 19 JaaFan // Jul 11, 2012

    Big ups to the Great Donnie Yen also. He is a truly under rated actor, but people knows he is a badass.

  • Jeeja Yanin: The Toughest Woman in Thailand? // Jun 25, 2009

    [...] fans may be able to locate a fansubbed copy on the Internet. Otherwise, sit tight for the upcoming release of Ong Bak 2, which may just turn out to be the best martial arts action movie ever [...]

  • 2009 Review: The Best Kung Fu Movies // Dec 6, 2009

    [...] Jing) (C-) Legendary Assassin (Wu Jing) (B-) Love and Honor (B-) Onechanbara: Samurai Bikini Squad Ong Bak 2 (Tony Jaa) Mask of the Ninja Never Back Down Never Surrender Ninja She-Devil Street Fighter: The Legend of [...]

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