Arts 11

Published on October 2nd, 2005 | by Greg


Yin/Yang Review of Ong-bak

We’re going to be taking a look today at the new-to-US-DVD martial arts/action movie out of Thailand called Ong-bak. As you know, Yin/Yang reviews take a member of each gender and ask them to have a dialogue about a movie.

Guy: OK. Ong-bak is a pretty straightforward hero movie: village in trouble, asks rural peasant with superduper kickboxing skills to retrieve a sacred idol from the no-good urban thieves, he goes to the city and immediately gets robbed, proceeds to kick some pasty urban-asses. The best parts are the fight scenes of course, and some of them rival early HK-era Jackie Chan for pure grace and skill.

Girl: I hear they didn’t use any stunt doubles, computer effects, or even any wire-fu! And thank god, because the floating/flying/look-at-me-I’m-a-Crouching-Tiger thing has been done to death.

Guy: Yeah, Tony Jaa is pretty much the biggest martial arts guy on the scene for quite a while, and some people are calling him the next Jet Li. He was actually in Mortal Kombat 2 as a stunt double, and all of a sudden, Muay Thai is hot. So, what’d you think of the film, aside from the obvious cuteness of the lead?

Girl: I enjoyed all the men in mud climbing the tree at the beginning. It was a hypnotic moment in what is supposed to be a movie about sacredness that really brought home the village culture. Of course, I didn’t believe in the overall premise of the movie – that it is worthwhile risking your life for an object, even if it is the head to a sacred statue that some superstitiously believe brings water. Nonetheless, a bad premise for some fantastic fight scenes, and some even better chase sequences.

Guy: I thought the comic relief was excellent- much better than the usual Thai movie where the comedy can be pretty culture-specific. And I enjoyed seeing the typical “token guy of a different ethnicity” concept being taken apart here- the white guys, black guys, and Asians all seemed pretty much on par, and each took their fair share of hard knocks.

Girl: Yes, the movie was indeed culturally sensitive in its ass-kicking.

Guy: Which is an important, and oft-overlooked quality in martial arts movies. So, did Ong-bak stand up well against, say, New Police Story, or Once Upon a Time in China?

Girl: Well, it wasn’t as well funded as a Jackie Chan movie, but I would say the choreography was very creative and they made good use of Bangkok- from Khao San Road to the awesome outdoor markets.

Guy: It’s nice to see action choreography done by someone other than Yuen Matrix, Kill Bill, Hidden Tiger, Etc Woo-ping.

Girl: Did you dislike anything about the film?

Guy: Well, I thought that the editing was distracting sometimes. But I hear that the American cut of the film is actually the ‘Luc Besson’ cut, as he re-mixed and re-edited the film for the wider DVD release!

Girl: Yeah, too many slow-mo triple takes, but I’d say Thailand is starting to build a reputation capable of competing against the big 4 (China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea) in future martial arts films.

Guy: Alright, that’s our review. Remember everyone- treat your tuk-tuks with kindness and respect.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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