Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Netflix Rewind: Ong Bak 3 - Gimme Bak My Life

It's hard to describe to someone who has never seen Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, how a tiny muay-thai fighter/stuntman named Tony Jaa could be the savior of martial arts cinema. Every martial arts movie the guy has been a part of has things in common:

This elephant makes me feel funny...

  1. "Revered" Elephants in peril
  2. Acting and comedy that borders on autism 
  3. Storylines that are best described as "I am pretty sure a drunk hobo came up with this." 
Again, how could you convey to someone the importance of viewing any of Tony Jaa's films?  Don't forget #4:


The best part (and probably worst for ladies, so no girls aloud) is that Tony Jaa destroys people's worlds not only on film, but most definitely in real life as well. After careful review (which the film also supplies in multiple-shot recaps of badassary), I am certain that people are paid off the street to take a punch/kick/death in Tony Jaa movies.

Don't believe me, let's check the recap of Tony Jaa doing all his own stunts (punch the video's author in the face for the music):

Best of Tony Jaa (Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior and The Protector)

Ong Bak chase scene:

That lil' dude is crazy, yo!

So it was with much trepidation that I went into Ong Bak 3; why the hesitancy you ask? Well Ong Bak 3 is actually the second half of a bloated Ong Bak 2 (which is a 15th century prequel to Ong Bak *head explode*), a movie that became so out of control in it's scope and failed execution that it needed several loans to get it through production. How could a sequel, so audacious in it's follow-up to one of the best martial arts movies of all time, be such an unfettered and unfocused mess? Lets look at the studio credits shall we:

Writer:  Tony Jaa (wait he can barely speak...)
Director: Tony Jaa (you sure he isn't the fight coordinator?)
Producer: Tony Jaa (well he did have a lot of money)
Fight Coordinator: Tony Jaa (wait so he IS the freaking director?)
Jacky Chan was nicer...

So you have a guy that was an unknown quantity 7 or 8 years ago, who became a glorified stuntman, and you put him in charge of ALL facets (including money) of the biggest-budget Thai film of all time? Somewhere in south-east Asia, there must be a mass grave of talented film execs and writers who all seem to share the same hole in the skull from a Tony Jaa elbow.

You know, I could go on about how bad Ong Bak 3's story is, about how it makes Ong Bak 2 seem like paragon of character development. Still curious? Below is a synopsis, which I guess qualifies as spoilers, but really - we're all here for the action scenes aren't we?

In the year 1431 in Thailand, Tien (Tony Jaa) is held captive being beaten with wooden (staves). On the orders of Lord Rajasena (Sarunyu Wongkrajang), his elbows and knees are snapped. As Lord Rajasena sleeps, Tien's guerilla fighters attempt to free Tien, but Bhuti Sangkha (Dan Chupong) appears and kills them. Lord Rajasena offers to hire Bhuti, but he refuses and gives the offer to remove the curse which has been placed on Rajasena before leaving. Rajasena orders his men to kill Tien, but before this can be carried out, a man arrives with a pardon from the king, indicating that he will take Tien's corpse, much to Rajasena's ire. The messenger returns Tien's body to the Kana Khone villagers. After fending off the village from invaders who are after Tien's body, Master Bua (Nirutti Sirijanya) feels guilty over Tien's imprisonment and becomes a Buddhist monk. Pim (Primrata Det-Udom) revives Tien to life, but finds that Tien is still crippled from his beatings. Tien then embarks on a rehabilitation regimen with the help of Master Bua.
Rajasena visits Bhuti at his temple to remove his curse, but Bhuti reveals his true motive of usurping Rajasena and becoming the new king. After a battle, Bhuti decapitates Rajasena, but his severed head curses Bhuti. After meditating, Tien returns to his village to find it in ruins, and the surviving villagers kidnapped and enslaved by Bhuti. Bhuti uses his magic to summon an eclipse. When Pim (Primrata Det-Udom) reveals herself as Tien's companion, she is taken to Bhuti's palace, where she is killed. Tien witnesses this killing from a statue and fights his way through the guards before confronting Bhuti, who launches a spear at Tien's chest. As he falls to his knees, defeated, he remembers Bua's words, and finds himself again atop the statue. Overcoming Bhuti's illusion, lightning strikes and Bhuti's eclipse magic is dispelled. Bhuti attempts to escape but is confronted by Tien. Bhuti attempts again to throw a spear at Tien, who catches and throws it aside. He then attacks Bhuti, impaling him on an elephant tusk. Tien and Pim return to the village, where they pray before the statue of Ong Bak.


The words do not do what actually appears on screen justice. The "rehabilitation regimen" the wiki alludes to is actually a 5 minute dance scene where he re-breaks his bones and sets them to the Asian equivalent of Enya music. All of this bullshit when the only thing people want to see are bone-crunching Tony Jaa fight scenes.

Screw it, here are the two best fight scenes - now just give me 90 minutes of my life back.

Opening Fight Scene

Final Fight

Fight Scenes: ****
Movie: *

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