In the couple of days since it went live, probably thousands of rabid Tony Jaa fans have swarmed over to Twitch to watch the much-vaunted showreel of Ong Bak 2, which Todd Brown brought back from the Cannes Film Market.
It's everything people have said it is, and more. In a word: Wow!
My first reaction is that is looks totally different from any other Thai action film being produced today. It's grittier than all the others, yet has an unmatched slickness. There's blood!
Ong Bak 2 could be the best Thai action film of the year, that is if there is actually a good story to strap together all the cool moves that Tony is doing. Heck, even without a good script it might be the best action film. Running along the backs of a herd of elephants, and getting the pachyderms to bow before him is a nice touch.
Directed by Tony Jaa and having nothing to do with 2003's Ong Bak, the story is set in ancient times. A boy is about to be executed, but before the killing blow can be struck, a gang of martial-arts masters, each skilled in a different art, attacks the executioners and saves the boy. They train him in all their ways in a bid to create a new master martial art. He is "The One", uniting all the martial arts.
The stunts and techniques are all quite diverse, with hand-to-hand and the use of various weapons. Here's a list:
- Tiger Taming Staff
- Wolf Trumping Rope Dart (say that three times fast)
- Giant-Felling Sweep
- Turn Muay Thai Left Fist into Right Kung Fu Claw
- Samurai Slasher
- Flick of the Sabre
- Single Cut with Sword
At least one commentator on the Twitch thread posits that Ong Bak 2 could be a prequel of sorts to 2003's Ong Bak -- an origin story.
No matter. The "real fight is back", as a text line in the showreel says.
It is generally thought that Ong Bak 2 will be released in Thailand later this year. The Weinstein Company long ago cut and recut a deal for this with Sahamongkol Film International, and it's expected the Weinsteins will be bringing the film to the US in some form.