Originally set to be Jaa’s solo debut as a writer, producer, director and martial-arts coordinator, as well as star, Ong Bak 2’s production was halted earlier this year when a frustrated, diva-like Jaa walked off the set in a dispute over money with producers at Sahamongkol Film International. With more than two years spent in filming and production, Ong Bak 2 presents Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa’s attempt at an action masterpiece. The Ong Bak 2 story is not related in any way to Tony Jaa’s breakout hit, Ong Bak. Despite what you may have heard, it is not a sequel, or a prequel.
Jaa stars as Tien. He’s the gifted but impetuous son of a nobleman in the Ayutthaya Kingdom who is spirited away after his parents are killed. He is abducted by slave traders, rescued by an eclectic group of bandits, magicians and warriors, taught various styles of martial arts and then embarks on a deadly path of vengeful carnage. The ending was somewhat of a cop out, and a disappointment, as it leads potentially and very directly to a third movie to resolve the issues the storyline had left hanging. It could have easily stretched it to say, 20 minutes more to get everything settled, but I guess there were grander plans to the tale that needed another movie to tell.
As for the general meat & potatoes of the film, its great! I hadn’t seen a martial arts movie like Ong Bak 2 since the early days of Jackie Chan. It’s light on plot but features some of the most intricate and exciting stunt and fight scenes that I have ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of martial arts movies. Plotwise, the story, or, more so, the way in which the story plays out, in Ong Bak 2 gets too convoluted for its own good. What should be a rather simple story of revenge and a people taking their land back from the evil ones in power quickly becomes head-scratching as we are subject to flashback after flashback.
The film itself was a great production, the sets, the action, the overall feel of the film was one of quality – however, having to wait so long for it to reach us and for it to leave the film with so many unanswered questions left me feeling a little cheated. Besides Muay Thai Kickboxing he also shows his Kung Fu and Kenjutsu skills. In general, it’s very apparent that there is far more weapon-fighting featured than what we are used to see from Thai movies. But despite that, such acrobatic moments, as well as the fights themselves, are simply too sparsely spread throughout the film. Is it a good film? Yes. But I’m holding out for more in the already announced Ong Bak 3.