Posted: 09/24/2004

 

Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior

(2003)

by Alexander Rojas



This DVD is available for purchase at HKFlix.com.


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After a village’s buddhist statue, Ong-Bak is beheaded and the head is stolen, the people from the village frantically sent out one of their strongest and most noble young men, Booting, to recover the head of the sacred statue. With little money and inexperience in a city, Booting seeks out the help of George, who left the village for the city. However, George, ashamed about his upbringing, ignores Booting until a faithful fighting competition that Booting accidentally becomes involved in. With extensive martial arts training by a Buddhist monk since childhood, Booting greatly overwhelms the competition in what could be one the greatest martial arts spectacles captured on film. George seeks his opportunity to exploit Booting’s talent and profit from it, but after witnessing Booting’s devotion and willingness to sacrifice himself for the will being of his village, George becomes riddled with guilt at turning his back on his past and Booting. They then set off to reclaim Ong-Bak’s head from a ruthless gang lord with his own agenda on destroying Buddhist culture.

With the mix of action street brawling and adventure films, Ong-Bak will appeal to western audiences that grew up with the street fighter style films of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The only difference is, Booting is an underdog because no one has any idea who he is, but from the beginning, he is the deadliest of any fighter, whereas Van Damme’s characters had to train and develop within the span of the plot to become the top fighter. Although the character development is an important standard in traditional narratives, Ong-Bak has very little use for it, other than George, and most of the film focuses on action, creating several sequences of chases and all-out brawling.

Ong-Bak is a total popcorn movie that introduces a young martial artist talent, Phanom Yeerum, to the world. He has a baby face quality that fits so perfectly in the role of the naive Booting, but his physical capabilities and martial arts skills are the attributes that will benefit his action movie star career. Oh, one last thing, those knee attacks from Booting are wicked bad ass!

Alexander Rojas is a film reviewer for Film Monthly and has a wicked badass knee attack!



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