Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

I’m not the biggest fan of what Variety used to call "chop-socky" flicks, but in this one, the chopping and the sockying are so artistic that I was completely distracted from the dopey story and silly dialogue. Tony Jaa, from whom we’ll be hearing a great deal more, stars as Ting, a man from a small Thai village that has recently been robbed. The thief took the head of their Buddha statue, called Ong Bak, and the superstitious locals think all kinds of bad stuff will happen if they don’t get it back. Thus, they send super-fighter Ting to the evil and aptly named city of Bangkok, where he falls in with two-bit scammer Hum Lae and his groovy young protégé Muay. Together, the three of them form a sort of Batman and Robin and Other Robin as they hunt for the head. What makes this work, though, are the incredible acrobatics, free-running and martial arts skills of Tony Jaa. He’s completely mesmerizing, combining the best of Jackie Chan’s goofy street ballet with the vicious and controlled fighting abilities of Bruce Lee. No doubt, Jaa is the next Jet Li, only more so.


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