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Vol. LXIII, No. 42
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

TWO MORE DOWN, MANY MORE TO GO: The now fully grown Tien (Tony Jaa on top of picture) is shown meting out justice to two more assassins who were part of the gang that massacred Tien’s family when he was a ten-year-old child. Tien has taken it upon himself to avenge the murder of his family.

Ong Bak 2: Tony Jaa Is “Bak” in Martial Arts Epic

Kam Williams

Ong Bak 2 is billed as a prequel, which is technically true since the events in the movie do transpire before those in the original. However, the first installment was set in today’s Thailand and revolved around a boxer, whereas the new film takes place in the 15th century and features a 10-year-old prince as its protagonist.

The film is actually more reminiscent of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon than Ong Bak 1, since it is also an historical martial arts epic with surrealistic flights of fantasy. However, because of its smaller budget, Ong Bak 2 doesn’t measure up to Crouching Tiger in terms of cinematic breadth or majesty.

Nonetheless, director Tony Jaa deserves credit for staging the stunt scenes in the film in the style of a Bruce Lee classic movie. He does double duty by not only directing the movie, but also playing the role of the grown up Tien, although it takes place about 700 years earlier. At the beginning of the film, Tien’s a child, and his parents, Lord and Lady Sihadecho, are provincial rulers during the reign of King Rama’s fading feudal dynasty.

Tien’s entire family is massacred during a civil uprising and their orphaned son is sold to slave traders by the assassins. Not surprisingly, the boy grows up vowing to avenge the murder of his family, and with vengeance in mind, he becomes expert in a variety of martial arts disciplines.

What ensues is a non-stop ballet of orchestrated slaughter, with the now fully grown Tien eliminating enemies using a sword, a knife, a spear, and his bare hands. He should thank his lucky stars that his adversaries are polite enough to attack one at a time, including the one he cooks alive by kicking him into an enormous wok full of bubbling oil.

Very Good (3½stars). Rated R for graphic violence. In Thai with subtitles. Running time: 93 minutes. Studio: Magnet Releasing.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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