Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ong Bak

Much hyped Thai contribution to the martial arts revival of late, involving extraordinary stunt-work from the lead Tony Jaa reminiscent of Jackie Chan in his heyday. He leaps over, under, around, between moving cars, vats of boiling oil, panes of glass and countless other people - in one shot he escapes a legion of baddies by jumping up and running from shoulder to shoulder over them. Tbe opening scene, featuring 20 Thai schoolkids fighting to be first to the top of a tree - up and down the tree - was fantastic and original. The fight scenes, where he employs Muay Thai against a variety of western and oriental opponents, were dramatic and believable. Unfortunately the film commits the common error of using up all its big fights too early, so that the finale is just more of the same. Also the realism of the Muay Thai is at the expense of the delight and variation seen in the Hong Kong flicks. By the final fights it had almost lost my unforgivably jaded attention.