OMG! A new Tony Jaa movie:
Back in 2003, a little Thai movie called Ong Bak introduced the world to an elephant-herder-turned-martial-artist named Tony Jaa. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, the movie became a global sensation and rocketed Pinkaew and Jaa into the international celeb-o-sphere. They quickly collaborated on a follow-up called Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector) that became the most successful Thai film ever released in America. Two times lucky, the Thai studio Sahamongkol Films eagerly green-lighted Jaa’s dream project: Ong Bak 2 (Magnet Releasing), to be written, directed, produced, choreographed, and starred in by Jaa himself.
I have seen both of Tony Jaa’s earlier movies. They are jaw-droppingly amazingly awesome, if you like that sort of thing (which I really, really do). Jackie Chan? Who’s that?
You should read the review I linked to, written by Grady Hendrix at Slate both for the inside scoop on why this film has been so long in the making. You should also read it because it is one of the funniest movie reviews I have read in some time.
Warning: There are some spoilers ahead.
But, c’mon, there really is not much to spoil in a Tony Jaa movie. We’re talking simple, linear, predictable “plots” here.
The subhead on the article: Bow down before the awesomeness of Tony Jaa. I think ‘m swooning. Here are a few excerpts:
Just to be clear, Ong Bak 2, takes place 500 years before Ong Bak 1 and it starts with Jaa slapping an elephant in the brain so hard that an entire herd of them bow down before his might. That’s the kind of awesome he’s selling. By the time we hit the half-hour mark he’s fought a samurai, wrestled a crocodile, and killed a vampire. Also: elephant surfing.
I will be seeing this movie over and over again.
The plot sees Jaa orphaned and raised by a band of jungle pirates. They teach him to fight in many different flavors, and then flashbacks break out like a rash, and we learn that Jaa’s parents were royalty and that he needs to take revenge on the people who killed them. So he does. The end.
In his last movie Jaa was trying to recover his stolen elephants, which he did by asking random people, “Where are my elephants?” and then beating the stuffing out of anyone who gave the wrong answer. Looks like they have taken the basic premise to dizzying new heights this time!
Jaa shot the majority of this movie himself, and it’s staggering to see just how much crazy is inside his head. Filmed in every color of the fungus, from lichen-gray and mushroom-brown to rich, moldy black and rotten-mildew green, the screen is soaked in liquids. The few times it actually stops raining, someone immediately spits, bleeds, or drools on the camera. The visuals are primitively powerful, as bold and savage as pounding tom-toms, all warped short lenses and bizarre Dutch angles. Half the dialogue is maniacal laughter; the other half is savage screams.
If I were on a deserted island and could only have one movie with me…
Hendrix concludes with:
Apparently, it worked. Ong Bak 3 is slated to hit screens by the end of this year. Given the madness on display in Ong Bak 2, I expect it will be set in Precambrian Thailand; and Tony Jaa will play a trilobite taking revenge on the nautiloids who killed his parents; and using his martial arts powers alone, he will grow his very own exoskeleton on-screen without using special effects or trick photography.
!!Ong Bak 3!!! It’s too much! I’m only human…