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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 15 January 2006
Since taking up Muay Thai 3 years ago, I have become very disappointed with all the "martial arts" scenes that get such huge praise. The "fight" scenes in films such as Matrix are a joke! In most films it is all fly-by-wire and you can see that the way the kicks and punches are dealt, they have such a small amount of possible momentum they would harldy cause a bruise let alone disable a 19 stone thug (and send him flying through the air at that!) It is very refreshing to see something believable at last (most of the time anyway - some of the chase scenes were a bit OTT, but fun.) I watched this film first in Thai on a DVD brought over by my Muay Thai trainer and the fact that I didn't miss anything compared to the English version says something about the extremely thin plot... But who buys fight films for the plot :o) Definitely 5 stars for this excellent film!
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on 14 January 2006
A buddist figurine is stolen from a small village (for reasons that are not fully expalined nor really nessessary,)the wells dry up, the people start to starve and the future looks bleak. So in steps the local hero (winner of a wonderfully filmed tree fight (yeah I know but you have to see it to appreciate it - if you thinking Crouching Tigers ballet in the trees you are way off the mark) He heads for Bangkok meeting up with a lowlife-would-be-monk and his would-be-student girlfriend. The Friend cons him into taking part in a Martial Arts contest, and that's about it. Good guys and bad guys.
Ok, it's a martial arts film but it has all that you would want from such a movie. The difference is whereas there is rarely a sense of hurt in most Kung Fu films, the fights in this film look like they REALLY hurt. I mean, you can feel almost every crunch. The previously mentioned tree fight is a great opening (the constestants falling and hitting the floor is wince inducing). The action is outstanding, film from numerous angles in slo-mo (my favourite was our hero jumping through a barb-wire loop.
You don't watch this kind of film for the story (which is good because there is not much of one). You watch because you want to sit up, turn to whoever is sitting next to you and say "did you see that!!!!"
Watch this film and that's exactly what you'll be saying.
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on 17 October 2010
Not recommended for UK customers as it's a US region blu-ray. Won't work on your player unless it is an all region one.

The film itself is something you need to watch to experience it. Bruce Lee is a legend but Ja is no less either. To think that the film utilizes none of the CGI and wire technology of these times and still shows such amazing stunts by Ja. I personally loved the film because of it's raw depiction of Muay Thai; the knee and elbows were a treat to watch. Ja is very good at mixing stuff as well so unlike the grace and speed of Kung Fu that we saw in Lee's movies, what we see here are the deadly power blows that are visibly highly lethal.

Of course if someone's dumb enough to be looking for a 'Gone with the Wind' storyline in films like these he/she would be disappointed but for all the martial arts fans out there add this one to your collection because you won't get bored watching this over and over.
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on 10 July 2010
The martial arts in this film rival that of even the legendary Bruce Lee, as it is more breath-takingly acrobatic, but without the use of naff 'house of flying daggers' hanging in the air nonsense. The stunts in this are genuine and it's a wonder how the actors survived making this film. The story is quite good also, unlike a lot of kung fu movies. You gotta see it if you like beat em' ups, martial arts in general and especially if you like Muay Thai.
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on 1 March 2012
not much to say, an instant classic. i thought the new score would be bad, but it's not that bad really, you won't even notice it - which means it's good... also the commentary from bey logan is a nice add-on to that release - this guys can talk, a lot, but you are never bored with his commentary...
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on 23 September 2005
I have been a martial arts film fan since I was around 8 years old but recently I have become disollusioned with the genre. The increase of wire work and CGI has really dumbed down the skills or the stars. So muich so that i find myself dusting off the old Van-Damme / Lee / Chan movies yet again. BUT NOT ANY MORE. Film has a new warrior in Tony Jaa. His raw uncompromising style coupled with what is arguably the worlds most ruthless Martial Arts style (in Muay Tai)creates a brutal open mouthed ass kick fest. Jaa is a flurry of elbows, knees, fists and feet as he destroys most of his oponents, only suffering a premature defeat against a junkie adrenaline henchman before reaping his revenge. A wafer thin plot doesnt matter at all as the action defines the word breathtaking and the superb extra's on the DVD confirm that Martial Arts is back. See you later Bruce, theres a new guy in town.
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on 5 December 2005
Ton Jaa is an outstanding martial artist, of that there is no doubt. His moves are clean, gracefull and so very quick and I will definately be looking out for him in other films. Unfortunately the film itself is not great. I found that the script was weak and the story slow and insignificant. The english dubbing is also quite bad. If you want to watch some fantastic martial arts this is the film for you,(be warned thou, it doesn't really kick off until about the second half of the film) but if you want to sit down to watch something with substance and action then try Zatochi.
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on 21 May 2006
Rubbish plot. Slightly unconvincing acting.

But mind-blowing stunts. And if that's what you're after, you won't be disappointed.
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on 2 July 2007
From a small Thai village the statue of the revered deity Ong Bak is vandalized ... his head is stolen. The film shows how the eight moves of Muay Thai are executed by Ting, the best maritial arts fighter in the village who is sent to the city to find and return this sacred object. The local priest admonishes Ting to use only peaceful means because the moves can be deadly. Ting is given money and valuables by the villagers who aresimple and poor but faithful he will succeed ... He is advised to seek the help of a cousin, who lives in the city. Ting finds his cousin who is less than enthusiastic to receive a visitor from his village. The cousin is ashamed of his village roots, he has taken on an American name and has a girlfriend whom he likes to impress that he is "cool" ... unfortunately, he also has a gambling habit that has gotten him into deep debt with the underworld bosses.

After the cousin stole Ting's money and gambled it away, Ting ends up fighting goons sent by the local gangster to put fear into his cousin, essentially pay up or risk permanent injury. Ting's fighting prowess impresses his cousin who gets the idea to have him fight at a local arena against the best fighters where betting takes place. The cousin is certain he will recoup his losses ...Ting agrees on the condition afterwards his cousin will help find Ong Bak. While the story line is basic, the fighting scenes captivate and capture the viewer's attention and hold it throughout the film.

The scenes where Tony Jaa jumps over several produce carts during a chase in the city while knives are thrown at him is astonishing. Another phenomenal scene involves a huge number of three wheeled taxis which are driven by Ting's would-be captors as he fights them off while he is riding in a moving taxi. When they come to the end of the freeway there is an unexpected drop off ... like the edge of a cliff, the freeway is under constructed and incomplete. There is an explosive ending related to the capture of the gangster boss and the *surprise* location of an unprecedented number of Buddha heads which were stolen. This DVD has great extra features, such as a live performance of martial arts by Tony Jaa on stage in Paris during the opening of his film. It also has a rap music video which incorporates phenomenal martial arts performed by Tony Jaa. Some behind the scenes footage features the creation of specific stunts within the film. Erika Borsos [pepper flower]
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on 26 September 2006
Ting (Tony Jaa) lives in Nong Pradu village in Bangkok, which is protected by a revered Buddha statue named Ong-Bak. That is, until a sneaky guy named Don steals the head, leaving the whole village suffering (well drying up, ground becoming increasingly arid -- think of the Sankara Stones in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and you've got something not too dissimilar here). The villagers club together to provide money after Ting agrees to go to Bangkok to recover the head and replace it on the statue.

Ting arrives in Bangkok and revisits his former village dweller friend Humlae (Petchtai Wongkamlao) -- although he has taken on the name George -- who, along with a young girl named Muay Lek (Pumwaree Yodkamol), is under pressure to get lots of money. He keeps getting threats of violence from someone from whom he borrowed lots of money, and will continue to unless he pays back what he owes. This is made more difficult because Muay will need money for her college fees and her sister Ngek has lowered her standards to help financially.

Initially Humlae turns Ting away until he spots the bag containing the villagers' money. Being a largely unsuccessful gambler, he tricks Ting and steals the bag to bet on fights in an illegal fight club. Ting manages to track him down (quite how, considering he's unfamiliar with Bangkok!) and unwittingly becomes involved in one of the fights, in which he amazingly knocks down his opponent with a single knee strike.

Humlae now sees Ting in a new light once he has become familiar with the latter's exceptional martial arts skills (mostly an early derivative of Muay Thai), and makes a deal: keep fighting for him and he'll help him find Don -- and Ong-Bak's head. But Don has other tricks up his sleeve...

Being a showcase for Tony Jaa's exceptional style of on-screen martial arts (and very impressive gymnastics and overall agility), we can't expect great plot or acting, but instead the film simply gives something that can largely be considered a film while at the same time offering thrilling action sequences that, contrary to the likes of HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS and CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, are executed by Tony Jaa - without the aid of wires or CG. Every little flip or flamboyant kick he did, he really did himself, and the film's hype is largely centred around this gloat.

The market chase scene alone is worthy of viewing all by itself, because it showcases Tony's agility in a truly breathtaking bit (some bits are done as double- or triple-cut from different angles, which is something of a Jackie Chan influence, but this also helps to reinforce the fact that Tony isn't cheating - besides, when it was originally in the cinema you would not have had the luxury of rewinding the more dynamic bits to see if you saw what you thought you saw). Tony's agility is humorously counterbalanced by Wongkamlao's antics, and it works brilliantly!

The fight scenes are also brilliantly choreographed, although some of the Muay Boran moves that Tony does are particularly brutal (some would be lethal if copied). It's not really all that bloody, but the fights still have plenty of impact and excitement to satisfy action fans.

The extra disc, amongst other things, contains making-of documentaries that show behind-the-scenes footage of Tony practicing bits of the film (e.g. the market chase) and him working on fight choreography.

This truly is an awesome film, and should be considered a classic of its genre.
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