Tony Jaa, when are you going to get the true backing you deserve? Not from Hollywood, no, they would water down him and turn him into a comedian (cough Jackie Chan cough), but I want to see him in more. That's why I was excited to finally catch "Ong Bak 2". I've been dying for more of this guy. Honestly, this is his best film overall.
"Ong Bak 2" is a prequel of sorts (mostly conceptionally) where a young man watches his father die at the hands of ruthless ruler in old school Thailand. He then grows up and trains to be the badass leader of a group of fighting thieves when he decides its time to take vengeance against his father's killer. As you can imagine, all kinds of wicked shite ensues and Tony Jaa goes on a kickin ass spree.
Really, the plot is somewhat irrelevant to the story. Hell, you don't need subtitles or dubbing for this bad boy. I think Tony Jaa (whom also wrote and directed it) figured, 'you know...my other movies have pretty shitty stories. Might as well keep it simple, limit the dialogue, and show the audience what they want to see.' Well, it works and although this is his most stripped down film storywise, its also visually one of his most stunning. The style, the filming quality, and the fairly clever directing make this one his best in that aspect. Jaa has a sense of not overexplaining things and just letting them happen and it works wonderfully for "Ong Bak 2".
Of course, though we don't watch these kind of movies for their directing style or in depth thought provoking tales. Not all the time anyway. We want to see some awesome choreography and sweet martial arts. Of course, with Jaa, there is never disappointment. He lands his Thai badass back into what he does best and that's hand to hand combat. This is where this film truly shines and by the time we reach our climatic ending of 'Tien vs the world' - we get some great choreography and action. It was interesting that this is the first time we get to see Jaa use a lot of weapons in the movie - he uses a ton by the way - and it lends this film to being unique from his others in that sense. His swordplay is quite dazzling and combined with his monstrous use of Muay Thai elbows and knees (with the borderline drunken boxing sequence) he gives us the goods here. This guy is built like a God and runs like a machine and he lets us see that. He even throws in a sequence where he fights a Bird Ninja (seriously) on the back of an elephant. Ballsy? I'm sure he's un-insurable.
"Ong Bak 2" might not be the most potent martial arts film I've see in a while, but its straight kick to the balls approach visually and action wise pleased me immensely. The lack of significant plot actually helped out in its translation from Thai to English quite well and Jaa's visual style was pretty impressive.
Written By Matt Reifschneider