Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning movie poster
Critic rating:
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Action/Adventure
Martial arts superstar Tony Jaa stars in and directs this epic tale of revenge set hundreds of years in the past.
Starring: Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Nirut Sirichanya, Santisuk Promsiri, Primorata Dejudom, Patthama Panthong, Petchtai Wongkamlao
Director: Tony Jaa
Running time: 1:54
Release: Opened Oct 23, 2009

Editorial Review

Jaa the director should return to own beginnings
By Jan Stuart
Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

One of the more pleasant surprises of 2003 was "Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior," a jaunty martial-arts flick out of Thailand that made a star of stuntman Tony Jaa. Raggedy by Jackie Chan standards, it benefited from a footloose charm and a non-digitally enhanced integrity that spoke to action fans and dilettantes alike.

Jaa's breakout success made him vulnerable to a virus that often overtakes performers who hit pay dirt before age 30: the need for greater artistic control. Taking co-directorial reins with Panna Rittikrai, Jaa has erected a portentous platform for his high-flying athleticism, bearing none of the freewheeling spirit or humor that made his feature debut a guiltless pleasure.

Set in a slavery-ridden corridor of 15th-century Siam, "Ong Bak 2: The Beginning" is a 98-minute extravaganza of drum and head pounding that is occasionally interrupted to monitor the progress of peerless fighter Tien (Jaa), a soldier's son on a mission to avenge his parents' murder.

Ek Iemchuen's jigjag screenplay jumps between Tien's formative years (enacted by a scowling Natdanai Kongthong) and his young adulthood. As the film's martial-arts choreographer, Jaa has devised a hybrid of Eastern fighting styles whose dippy inflections of dance provide the film with its chief source of levity.

The star's anti-gravity antics, however, are pulled down by the murky environs and doom-laden air of earnestness that would seem to be de rigeur for action epics set amid brutal feudal servitude. The hatchet-happy editor, ever-attentive to the transient attention span of the film's target audience, barely allows the hero time out from one virtuosic battle before he is flung in the face of a new enemy.

Jan Stuart is a freelance reviewer.