Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner14/10/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

The troubled production, occasionally plodding direction and cliche-laden plot mean that this is likely to disappoint fans of the original film, but the impressive fight scenes ensure that it remains watchable.

What's it all about?
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning is co-directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai, the fight choreographer on the 2003 hit, who stepped in when Jaa went on a bizarre two month walkabout in the middle of shooting. The film is ostensibly a prequel, with the action transposed to 15th-century Thailand and Jaa playing what one assumes is a distant ancestor of the hero of the original film.

When young Tien's (Jaa) parents are murdered, he's taken in by a gang of bandits and trained in the art of combat by their leader Chernang (Sorapong Chatree), who eventually adopts Tien as his son. As the years pass, Tien becomes obsessed with avenging his parents' deaths and plots revenge on the man he believes responsible, the power-hungry Lord Rajasena (Sarunyu Wongkrachang).

The Good
The film manages to deliver some terrific fight scenes. Thankfully, no elephants get thrown through plate glass windows this time round (cf The Warrior King), but there's a fabulous sequence where Jaa uses an elephant's tusks, ears and trunk to beat up some bad guys. There's also a particularly good bit with a crocodile.

The Bad
If you didn't know about the film's troubled production history, you could probably guess, because there are several abrupt jumps in the story as well as a tedious dance sequence in the middle that goes on far too long and is obviously just padding out the running time. Similarly, the film drags considerably in the non-fight scenes and there are gaping holes in the plot, such as the character of Pim (Primrata Dej-Udorn), who's introduced as Tien's possible love interest and promptly disappears about three quarters of the way through.

It's also probably fair to say that Jaa's not much of a dramatic actor, though the supporting cast (especially Chatree, who looks a bit like Big Brother's Siavash) attempt to compensate by being as melodramatic and over the top as possible.

Worth seeing?
The plodding direction, cliched plot and lack of humour mean that Ong Bak 2: The Beginning isn't a patch on the original film, but fans of Tony Jaa's awesome fighting skills probably won't be disappointed.

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Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (15)
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Content updated: 12/12/2017 14:09

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