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July 25, 2014

Movie Review: The Ong Bak Trilogy

Review By: Jimmy D.

The Ong Bak films really took Thai films to new levels and help break thru the martial arts market. In an era where stunts are down with wires and thru computers the Ong Bak films really impressed me by how real the action in the films was. Ong Bak opens with a tree-climbing contest to capture a red flag on top of a tree. While getting up the trees, people were kicking and shoving their opponents off the limbs. Just watching these guys falling off those high trees was such a remarkable feat in itself. Tony Jaa and this film took the martial arts world by surprise and shock. Like what Raid Redemption is doing right now, in the early 2000’s Tony Jaa was doing with the insane stunts that were real, the fresh camerawork and dynamic feel of each fight sequence. The two films that followed and are also in this collection, I feel pale in comparison to the original. Watching part 2 made me scratch my head did we really need a sequel? If you already have the blu rays, the only difference this time around is they come in this box, but there are no slim cases or special features that if you are a fan you have not seen before.

The first film is about a monk who is out to recover the head of a statue that was stolen. The acting in this film is brain numbing, so do not seek these films out for the level of acting they give you. This first film is all about Tony Jaa and those impressive and jaw-dropping fight sequences. I feel this film was just an excuse for Tony to just be a bad ass for a few minutes.

The second film is lesser than the first film but still worth the watch somewhat. Tony Jaa this time is in Thailand and he is out for revenge when those bad people slaughtered his family. The story is basically his childhood and requires acting and does play into the drama a little heavy at times. This film though while the fight scenes are not nearly as impressive as the first film, they were still worth mentioning because you get so much of it. My issue with the second film is that Ong Bak unlike Raid Redemption really did not seem to have much material going to make a sequel; it seems that as the film drew on that thought was on overload and it came to a point where it felt they were trying too hard. When we get to film three, my expectations were low. I should state that I have seen Ong Bak around 4 times in the past decade, but this week is the first time I've seen either sequel.

In Final Battle, Tony Jaa again has his family killed, and is bent on revenge. Well until he is taken captive and being tortured. This film is the odd film out, while it does not have as much fighting as we would like from these films, it does have the best story. Tony Jaa really shows with the last two films that he wants this film to be coming full circle, but it just feels that he basically tells the same story time after time and tries to go outside of his element with how he handles what the film brings.

As or the film quality, I felt the second and third blu rays were pretty good transfers, but the first one I was not so impressed with. I feel the sound and picture were not really the best they could do. So, I am thinking now when we get a few years down the road we will have another dip into this franchise with the complete uncensored and unrated Ong Bak that we do get the best quality. Now, that gripe aside I did enjoy watching all three, while the other two were different but yet felt the same at times they were still entertaining. If you already own the blu rays, keep them and if you do not, I would say seek them out.

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