Published on October 2nd, 2005 | by Greg0
Yin/Yang Review of Ong-bak
We’re going to be taking a look today at the new-to-US-DVD martial arts/action movie out of Thailand called Ong-bak. As you know, Yin/Yang reviews take a member of each gender and ask them to have a dialogue about a movie.
Guy: OK. Ong-bak is a pretty straightforward hero movie: village in trouble, asks rural peasant with superduper kickboxing skills to retrieve a sacred idol from the no-good urban thieves, he goes to the city and immediately gets robbed, proceeds to kick some pasty urban-asses. The best parts are the fight scenes of course, and some of them rival early HK-era Jackie Chan for pure grace and skill.
Girl: I hear they didn’t use any stunt doubles, computer effects, or even any wire-fu! And thank god, because the floating/flying/look-at-me-I’m-a-Crouching-Tiger thing has been done to death.
Guy: Yeah, Tony Jaa is pretty much the biggest martial arts guy on the scene for quite a while, and some people are calling him the next Jet Li. He was actually in Mortal Kombat 2 as a stunt double, and all of a sudden, Muay Thai is hot. So, what’d you think of the film, aside from the obvious cuteness of the lead?
Girl: I enjoyed all the men in mud climbing the tree at the beginning. It was a hypnotic moment in what is supposed to be a movie about sacredness that really brought home the village culture. Of course, I didn’t believe in the overall premise of the movie – that it is worthwhile risking your life for an object, even if it is the head to a sacred statue that some superstitiously believe brings water. Nonetheless, a bad premise for some fantastic fight scenes, and some even better chase sequences.
Guy: I thought the comic relief was excellent- much better than the usual Thai movie where the comedy can be pretty culture-specific. And I enjoyed seeing the typical “token guy of a different ethnicity” concept being taken apart here- the white guys, black guys, and Asians all seemed pretty much on par, and each took their fair share of hard knocks.
Girl: Yes, the movie was indeed culturally sensitive in its ass-kicking.
Guy: Which is an important, and oft-overlooked quality in martial arts movies. So, did Ong-bak stand up well against, say, New Police Story, or Once Upon a Time in China?
Girl: Well, it wasn’t as well funded as a Jackie Chan movie, but I would say the choreography was very creative and they made good use of Bangkok- from Khao San Road to the awesome outdoor markets.
Guy: It’s nice to see action choreography done by someone other than Yuen Matrix, Kill Bill, Hidden Tiger, Etc Woo-ping.
Girl: Did you dislike anything about the film?
Guy: Well, I thought that the editing was distracting sometimes. But I hear that the American cut of the film is actually the ‘Luc Besson’ cut, as he re-mixed and re-edited the film for the wider DVD release!
Girl: Yeah, too many slow-mo triple takes, but I’d say Thailand is starting to build a reputation capable of competing against the big 4 (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea) in future martial arts films.
Guy: Alright, that’s our review. Remember everyone- treat your tuk-tuks with kindness and respect.