The title “Ong-Bak” refers to a stone Buddha head which is what gives the main character a reason to go on a path of destruction. The full title is “Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior“ and the movie as you can probably guess, is a Thai production. Supposedly, Thai movies have a particular style of direction and comedy and that can be found here. In the film, someone steals Ong Bak and Tony Jaa (the main actor) needs to retrieve it before the yearly festival or else the village will be cursed. He doesn’t actually want to fight because it is seen as immoral in his village.
Besides the quest to get the sacred statue back there’s also a sub plot about a man who was originally from the village who over a complete story arc re-discovers his pride for his heritage. The main plot really just serves as a way to move from fight to fight and from chase to chase.
The action is handled extremely well and there is a genuine fight club in the movie which serves little other purpose than to add a few extra fights to the story. The club is visited a few times throughout, and like many great action movies when you are done with a location you destroy it. The final fight consists of the main character taking down three increasingly difficult enemies and the last completely wrecks the entire club. Now that I think about it all of the locations are destroyed after using them for the most part.
The Writer-Director of the film Prachya Pinkaew has a co-starring role and also serves as the comedic relief. He really showcases the action and the awesomeness of the protagonist and there is a chase through some back alleys that represents this fact. The sequence is hilarious as well as awesome, and really shows off the physical prowess and amazing jumping capabilities of Jaa. Something amazing also happens here, it’s so cool that you’ll want to rewind it and watch it again. What’s special is the movie actually beats you to it by using instant replays from various angles and in slow-motion. Sometimes they show the same shot up to 6 times like the movie already knows when something is so good visually that you’ll want to see it again.
This movie was great, yet short on story/plot, but it was, of course, designed to be that way. An action packed martial arts movie that could have started a great franchise. They attempted to do a sequel but it didn’t do so well. I have not seen the 3rd one and I’m not sure that I want to, seeing as the second one was so awful.