Monday, 4 March 2013

Review - Ong-bak: The Beginning (2008 - Dir. Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai)

I enjoyed the original Ong-bak and so I was looking forward to a bit more elbow on head action. But problems started before I even started watching it. It's a prequel. Has there ever been a good prequel? I can't think of any. I'm never very interested in what happened before, I want to know what happens next. And weren't the Clone Wars far more enticing and interesting when they hadn't been explained. So, prequels - bad.

Next up are flashbacks that give us loads of really interesting backstory. Ong-bak 2 has some really dull examples of this. The worst episode of Farscape is the Scorpius backstory episode. Evil characters lose some of their power when all is revealed about their difficult pasts that go some way to explaining their evilness. It would be better if they were a right rum lad as a child, shooting daddy long legs with a ruler and rubber band combo, and other stuff like that. So again, flashbacks - bad.

I'm already up to the third paragraph and I haven't exactly said that much about the film. And therein lies the main problem. I only watched it last night and I can't really remember anything about it. Apart from a pretty cool elephant scene. But that comes very early on. There just isn't anything memorable or special about it, even in a really bad way.

The fights in the original were great but in this, they're dull. There is a fight where Tien (Tony Jaa), a warrior out for revenge (that's all you need to know storywise), has to take on three opponents one after the other. Imagine the scene: judges sit in a line in the background to assess his abilities, the camera looks straight at them with the combatants slugging it out in the middle, and tracks in a parallel motion to the action. Yep, it looks exactly like a 2D fighting game. Except without the fireballs. Maybe someone who knows all of the intricacies of the different fighting styles would enjoy all this malarkey, but after the exciting fight sequences of the first film this all feels distinctly lacklustre. There's no jumping through rolls of razor wire in this.

I really can't think what else to write apart from the ending is a bit of a disappointment too. I've got the third film in my pile of things to watch and it looks as though it carries on where this film left off. Can't say I'm that enamoured with the idea. If you haven't seen Ong-bak it's probably a good idea to watch that. If you have seen, it's probably a good idea to watch it again rather than this.

If you like this you could also try:
Ong-bak, Police Story 1-3, Only the Strong.

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