STUDIO: Magnolia Home Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
* HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 2
* Behind-the-Scenes: Capturing a Warrior
* Ong Bak 3 Exclusive Footage
* Bonus Alternate Cut of Ong Bak 2
* Making of Ong Bak 2: The Story and Character of an Epic
* Making of Ong Bak 2: Revealing the Majesty
* Making of Ong Bak 2: The Art of War
* Behind-the-Scenes: The Kingdom
* Behind-the-Scenes: The Community
* Interviews with Cast and Crew
* International Trailer
Tony Jaa. Injustice. Kick. Punch. Jump. Elephant. The End.
Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree
Directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai
It’s 15-century Thailand, yo. Tien (Tony Jaa) witnesses his noble parents get murderized by a mean ol’ warlord. Orphan Tien is taken in by an eclectic band of bandits who teach him to fight in all the styles of the world and eventually make him the bandit king. Now a super badass, Tien seeks out those who slew his rents and super murders them all. Elephant.
“Probably most of the people going to the movie will be doing so to see Tony Jaa fight.” This monster understatement is made by Panna Rittikrai (co-director) in one of the DVD’s gazillion special features. Probably? Most? That’s like the director of a Jenna Jameson movie saying probably most of the people are watching the flic to see Jenna fuck. Unless you picked up Ong Bak 2 by accident, you came to see homie kick some ass. On this front the film does deliver. Asses are kicked. But there’s nothing special about the asses or the kicking. And aside from asses being kicked, the film has little else to offer.
Considering that the plots of Jaa’s first two films, Ong Bak and The Protector, consisted entirely of someone stealing something – an idol and an elephant, respectively – from Jaa’s village and him journeying to get it back, Ong Bak 2 has a positively Homer-esque storyline. I’m not going to bother recounting anymore than I did in the nutshell, cause who cares? The film barely has a story, and frankly it is still too much. The first film’s premise was threadbare, but it had the purity of simplicity on its side.
Truth be told, Ong Bak was a fairly shoddy movie. Basically a feature length backyard video of some kid showing off all the awesome things he can do. Yet there was an undeniable charm at work. Ong Bak 2 is a sequel to that film about as much as Troll 2 is a sequel to Troll. Even aside from taking place hundreds of years in the past and being about a different dude, OB2 is also tonally and stylistically quite different. Gone is the guerilla-style feel and unfortunately a lot of the humor too. Ong Bak 2 takes itself quite seriously in a way neither of Jaa’s first two films did – presumably because he didn’t direct either of those himself. Now this is Jaa’s show, all the way. Time to get heavy, y’all.
It’s an ambitious film visually, and though I think there is an unneccesary amount of story, I can’t say they hold back on the action. Jaa gets plenty of room to get physical. It’s always fun to watch Jaa show off his elephant tricks – if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Tony Jaa loves elephants – and two of OB2’s best scenes utilize this prowess. Seeing Jaa run across the backs of a herd of stampeding elephants is tits but I was even more impressed by a fight scene that takes place on top of, underneath, and generally all around the world’s most patient elephant. Just the fact that no one was stomped to death by the thing impressed me. I can’t imagine it loved having Jaa do flips off its face.
- Tony Jaa’s last words
My favorite sequence was towards the beginning and doesn’t actually feature Jaa at all, but rather a younger actor playing Tien. Kidnapped by nonsensically evil slavers, Tien is covered in blood and then thrown into a murky pit of water… with a crocodile! Twelve-year-old versus croc? Two thumbs up from me. And I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by noting that the kid wins.
The big new factor at play in Ong Bak 2 is that Jaa is now using weapons in his fights for the first time. Gone are the devastating elbows to the crown of the head. In are the swords. The fight scenes are all entertaining, in particular the training montage when Tien is taken in by the bandits and the film’s climactic super battle offers up plenty for fight fans. The sound FX are quite bonkers and over the top, which I liked, and every sword slash gets an accompanying spray of CG blood, which I didn’t like. The problem is that nothing really blew my mind. Sure, I was entertained, but I was also entertained by the song and dance Gap ads from the late 90’s. OB2‘s budget may have been raised, but I didn’t feel like the bar was.
Do each of his movies need to raise the bar? Well, depends on how you view Jaa. Is he an actor or a stuntman? I don’t think much of his acting – the little of it he attempts. And I find his persona over-serious and dull (he makes Jet Li look like Kung Fu Panda). I am a big fan of classic Jackie Chan. His movies were all the same, but I didn’t care. I just wanted more. If you love Tony Jaa then probably Ong Bak 2 will do it for you. Me? I wanted at least one sequence to really rock my socks off. I’m not sure how he could top the gourd-blowing 4-minute single-take stair climbing fight from The Protector, but I was hoping for something.
So without any gourd-blowing, we’re left treating Ong Bak 2 as any other movie, and here it comes up majorly short. The story is unfocused and not very engaging. Jaa’s characteristically glower-heavy “acting” doesn’t help much; neither does the lengthy dance number he performs for the villain (god, I wish it had been as funny as that sentence sounds). You’ll likely find yourself twiddling your thumbs and waiting for the next fight to start whenever the film hits “story.” The directors also over-stylize most scenes in that special way actors always seem to do when they take up directing for the first time. And without giving too much away, the film’s ending is quite bizarre, sudden and unsatisfying. Apparently there is an Ong Bak 3 in the works, which at least paints the weirdo ending as a cliffhanger. But still.
A worthwile rental for martial arts fans. For those simply curious to check out Jaa, I’d visit the first film. Or youtube.
This two-disc set comes with a buttload of special features. The most noteworthy is an alternate cut of the film that is 10 minutes shorter, for some reason. The bulk of the cuts come in the prologue, and I might actually recommend this version, given the mediocrity of the film’s story. This cuts to the chase faster.
Despite the sheer quantity, the other features are so-so. The three Making of Ong Bak 2 featurettes seem like they were promotional material for Thai TV or something. If you dig the film they’ll probably be fun enough, but it’s mostly just presskit style lip-service. And the two Behind-the-Scenes featurettes are just montages of onset footage, none of which shows much of anything revealing (though I did enjoy getting a glimpse of the elephant herd scene).