Could this be a new actor vying for a position that has been vacant for too long? Bruce Lee left behind him a filmmaking legacy that is yet to be matched and most likely never will be. Yes, people like Jet Li and Jackie Chan may try, but we all know there is something missing from their performances, something that set Lee apart and keeps him one step above those that follow in his foot steps.
Enter Tony Jaa, the Thai film star who is ready to set the stage on fire, a man who recently told Time Magazine that “Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee are my masters–they’re the inspiration for my work.” This couldn’t be more evident in Jaa’s newest film Ong-Bak.
Ong-Bak tells the story of a tiny Thai village in which the head from their Ong Bak (Buddha statue), has been stolen by a former native causing a riot in the village with strict demands for the return of the sacred artifact. To this Ting (Jaa) stands up and announces he will be the one to regain possession of the head and he sets out for the criminal streets of Bangkok.
Going on only the small amount of information he has Ting searches out the thief while at the same time getting himself involved in a world he has been trained to ignore, and to use his fighting talents to stay alive.
And use them he does, from the very first kick you realize what you are in store for as Ting lays out his adversary with one swift blow, and not more than ten minutes later he leads you through a back alley foot chase that gives the stuntman turned actor a chance to show the audience what he is made of.
Ong-Bak is a chance to showcase what is surely to be our next martial arts action star. Tony Jaa has the chops and this film has the action to keep audiences enthralled throughout, and trust me with every elbow or knee to the head Jaa delivers you too will cringe in pain as moves you wouldn’t even believe were imaginable are displayed with noticeable ease and a distinguishable flare.
Ong-Bak is not a movie to be celebrated as a dramatic epic but rather a kick ass martial arts film minus the wire work and CGI effects, which gives it its raw and primitive appeal.