Genre: Action/Martial Arts
Director: "Tony Jaa" Panom Yeerum,
Cast: "Tony Jaa" Panom Yeerum, Dan
Chupong, Primrata Dej-Udom, Saranyu Wongkrajang, Nirut Sirijunya,
Petchtai Wongkamlao, Chumporn Theppitak
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: Shaw & Scorpio East Pictures
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://www.ongbak3movie.com/
Opening Day: 22 July 2010
The legend of Ong Bak 3 begins after Tien (Tony Jaa) has lost
his fighting skills and his beloved stepfather at the Garuda’s
Wing cliff from the raid led by Jom Rachan (Saranyu Wonggrajang).
Tien is brought back to life with the help from Pim (Primrata
Dechudom) as well as Men (Petchtai Wongkamlao) and the Kana
Khone villagers. Deep into the meditation taught by Phra Bua
(Nirutti Sirijanya), Tien finally is able to achieve ‘Nattayuth’.
His talents are put to the test again when his rivals including
the Golden-Armoured King’s Guard (Supakorn ‘Tok’
Kijsuwan), the mysterious killers in black, and Bhuti Sangkha
(Dan Chupong) return for the final massive showdown.
this third instalment in the "Ong Bak" franchise,
Tony Jaa has finally given closure and clarity to "Ong
Bak 2", an in-name only sequel to the original and much
superior first chapter. That sequel, which was in fact a prequel
set in 15th century Thailand compared to its contemporary
predecessor, saw Tony Jaa as the orphaned son Tien of a noble
family whose parents were killed by the power-hungry Lord
Rajasena. Brought up by a group of warriors, Tien grows up
to become a fearsome fighting machine himself- which is really
an excuse for Tony Jaa to show off his bone-crunching moves.
"Ong Bak 2" ended on a cliffhanger, with Tien overwhelmed
by the sheer number of Rajasena?s soldiers and taken away
to be tortured to death. Then came the enigmatic voice-over
suggesting that Tien may find a way to cheat death once again
and the final shot of him standing in front of a scarred Golden
Buddha statue. Picking right up after the events of "Ong
Bak 2", this instalment begins with an unpleasant sequence
where Tien is beaten and brutalised in ways apparently too
disconcerting even for an NC16 rating (yes, it's cut). His
bones completely broken, Tien is saved from execution by a
palace order- though it?s not explained why- and subsequently
nursed to health by a group of villagers.
There he begins a journey of meditation- one of both physical
and spiritual healing- that draws heavily on Buddhist teachings
of forgiveness versus revenge, aided by his mentor Phra Bua
(played by veteran Thai actor Nirut Sirijanya) and his childhood
sweetheart Pim (played by Primrata Det-Udom). Meanwhile, Rajasena
is haunted by a curse set upon him by the Crow Demon (Dan
Chupong), the mysterious agile fighter whom Tien had fought
with briefly in "Ong Bak 2", who wants the throne
for himself. His body covered with tattoos, the Crow Demon
soon uses his supernatural powers to enslave the villagers,
setting the stage for an epic confrontation with Tien.
True enough, like "Ong Bak 2", audiences will be
treated to a no-holds-barred vicious climax with plenty of
jaw-breaking, head-cracking and knee-crunching action. Like
its predecessor too, Tony Jaa will go up against dozens of
enemy warriors in the midst of an elephant herd. And once
again, like its predecessor, you can be sure that you'll be
left in awe at Tony Jaa's physical agility and martial arts
prowess- which was the very reason his name was mentioned
among the greats Jet Li and Jackie Chan when "Ong Bak"
was first released.
Here, Tony Jaa also showcases the 'nattayuth' fighting technique,
a combination of traditional khon dancing with mixed martial
arts, as his character Tien goes up against the Crow Demon.
That showdown is simply poetry in motion- Jaa's 'nattayuth'
moves equally graceful and brutal- made even more impressive
when one starts to see the parallel between that and the dancing
movements Tien had earlier learnt from Pim.
But credit must also go to his co-star Dan Chupong, who proves
his mettle as Jaa?s equal in not just the climax but in almost
every fight sequence that he appears in. In fact, while Tien
is off meditating, Dan Chupong gets to steal the show in a
thrilling fight against Rajasena's men as his Crow Demon character
goes about smashing their skulls through thick brick walls.
(There is certainly a real-life parallel to be drawn here,
as Tony Jaa's decision to join the monkhood in May shortly
after this film was released can only mean that Dan Chupong
may steal his thunder as Thailand's most famous action star.)
Of course, there is a good reason for Tien's (or Tony Jaa's)
departure, for "Ong Bak 3" tries- though rather
clumsily- to be a film about the redemptive potential of forgiveness.
Whereas Jaa's Tien was driven by revenge in "Ong Bak
2", here he is driven by something different, something
less destructive and ultimately liberating.
In the hands of more experienced directors, this noble ambition
might have translated better to the big screen- but co-directors
Tony Jaa and Jaa's mentor Panna Pittikrai (who are also action
choreographers and action directors in the film) are unfortunately
out of their league here. And that is where "Ong Bak
3" falters, not just for taking itself too seriously,
but for doing so too maladroitly. Indeed, it's especially
telling when one of the best things about the film is the
levity that Phettai Wongkumlao's village idiot Mhen brings,
especially during Tien's fight when he first emerges from
his self-imposed solitude.
Much has been said about the production troubles surrounding
"Ong Bak 2" and "Ong Bak 3"- Tony Jaa
disappearing from the set for two whole months during filming
for "Ong Bak 2"; subsequent studio pressure leading
to the rushed production of "Ong Bak 2" and the
decision to make this film "Ong Bak 3" partly to
complete the story and partly to recoup costs. For all its
travails, "Ong Bak 3" isn't the unnecessary three-quel
it may seem, bringing a befitting conclusion to the story
that Tony Jaa began in "Ong Bak 2" and left off
so abruptly. At the very least, it's an excuse to watch Tony
Jaa fight onscreen again and probably for the last time in
a long while. That alone is worth the price of admission.
(Nothing less- or more- than the perfect excuse to see Tony Jaa show off his breathtaking fight moves)
Review by Gabriel Chong
For a more in-depth look at "Ong Bak's" production history, click on this article.