Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 98 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:
The plot doesn’t make a lick of sense. The characters are essentially nonexistent. I couldn’t begin to tell you what the film is about, other than some human slavery ring helmed by a wild-eyed, black-toothed tyrant who looks suspiciously like Richard “Jaws” Kiel in a loincloth. Yet, I give “Ong Bak 2” four well-deserved stars. Why? Because it sticks its feet and fists so far up your ass, you’ll have trouble sitting down for a month.
Check it out. Like speed-addled clowns bursting from a jack-in-the-box, hordes of hyped-up assassins spring out from nowhere, intent on wasting the Tasmanian Devil of Thailand, Tony Jaa. Despite his effeminate face and compact frame, Jaa’s fingernails are box cutters; his toned arms snap spines into skeletal splinters. Jaa’s wiry body sprints at cheetah speed, impervious to gravity, while his kicks and blows deliver acrobatic, breathtaking death.
As for the armies of disposable assailants hell-bent on taking him down, I don’t have any idea where the hell they come from, who they are, or why they have a beef with Jaa. Some wear turbans, while others are dressed in black robes and executioner’s hoods. Many are old men with necklaces of teeth and Fu Manchu moustaches. One guy even sports what appears to be a black wicker basket over his head.
But these are irrelevant details. What matters is that “Ong Bak 2” cracks open a can of the most jaw-dropping, eye-popping whoop-ass ever filmed. The superhuman physicality and mano-a-mano combat are, literally, unfathomable. How did they choreograph this beautiful brutality? How did Jaa (who also co-directed the film) orchestrate his complex ballet of fists, feet, shattered vertebrae and broken limbs?
Who cares that the movie, staged in the jungles of Thailand, has no real story, when these supremely kinetic bouts of rump-punting leap relentlessly from the screen. Swords cling and clang against one another at dizzying, blur speeds. Warriors decimate the Thai population via whips, chains, triple-nunchucks, clay pots, and even the formidable tusks of a live elephant.
Another insane set piece involves Jaa being tossed into an alligator pit. Standing primed for battle with this slithering, hungry reptile, raven-haired Jaa appears as a feral god, coated in chocolate-thick mud and soaked by torrential rain. When the gator eventually pounces on its prey, the ensuing commotion looks real. I don’t know whether or not CGI was involved, but this scaly predator appears to be the real deal. Bruce the Shark, eat your heart out.
The astonishingly gonzoid fight scenes from “Ong Bak 2” might be the best ever filmed.
But come on, I hear you say with cynical ridicule. Do they really hold a candle to the urban high-rise jumping and Parkour punches from “District B-13”? Can Jaa possibly measure up to Jackie Chan’s twisty, inventive combat from “Drunken Master 2?” Judge for yourself. But you’ve gotta admit that watching a man sprint up an elephant’s trunk, complete a 360 degree back flip worthy of David Lee Roth, then plant his kicking feet into the disbelieving face of an adversary is cinematic nirvana of the first order.
“Ong Bak 2” is a staggering symphony of physical mayhem, with Jaa its masterful conductor. You’ll leave the theater dazed, exhausted, and exhilarated.
Posted on October 20, 2009 in Reviews by KJ Doughton
If you liked this article then you may also like the following Film Threat articles:
- THE PROTECTOR
- ONG BAK
- LIVING WITH THE TIGER (DVD)
- FARANG BA (CRAZY WHITE FOREIGNER)
- 2012 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL INTERVIEW WITH TODD KELLSTEIN OF “BUFFALO GIRLS”
Popular Stories from Around the Web