I saw Ong Bak in my Netflix suggestions for a long time before I finally decided to put it in my queue. I was after hollywood martial arts and general indiscrimanate violence. I wasn’t sure if a foreign film would satiate my addiction to gratuitous violence. What I found was something much more, but only by watching the whole trilogy.
The first movie is about a young Tien in his search for his rural village’s diety Ong Bak and the crazy trials he faces but inevitably triumphs over. A lot of the movie’s inuendos, dialogue and ethos is lost on the western mind. Many things didn’t make sense, but good martial arts there was, as well as being a great introduction into the form of Muy Tai. In an average Hollywood film we usually see the likes of Karate (80’s), Kung Fu (90’s), and Crav Maga (00’s – Military). When it comes to martial arts, this movie surprised me in the same way that the fighting in Equilibrium surprised me. A frame of referrence expander. Something new and exciting! All in all, taken by itself, aside the Muy Tai arts the story isn’t particularly good, and simply a show case for the art and Tony Jaa’s talents. However, taken as the result of the two-part prequel in the from of Ong Bak 2 and 3 makes a lot more sense.
evil is evil, insustainable, but very powerful for a short while and needs to run it’s course and end itself. The power of light and good is in it’s ability to sustain, endure and build itself up while everything crumbles around it so that when evil takes most everything else, it will be there to rebuild after.
If a basic story being protrayed through some insane martial arts is what you’re after, the Ong Bak trilogy is what you are after.