Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ong-Bak 2: A dissenting view


While I enjoyed Ong-Bak 2, and have come across other positive reviews, I have read rumblings of dissent in such places as the comments thread on Twitch and in the feedback at Enjoy Thai Movies.

Among co-workers who have seen the movie, the response has been stunned disbelief. Most people I've talked to are angry about the abrupt, WTF ending. One thing they complain about is the extended dance sequences. The ancient setting of the story, rather than contemporary times like in the original Ong-Bak, throws viewers off, leaving them to wonder -- how can it be a sequel if it's taking place in the past? Shaky cam, saturated colors and other stylistic choices made by director Tony Jaa are also criticized.

Twitch has now posted a negative review of Ong-Bak 2, coming from "a regular reader" named James Marsh. Here's an excerpt:

Beyond the casting of its lead character, the film has nothing whatsoever to do with the original Ong-Bak, and is in fact set 600 years previous to the events of that film. In truth it does feature a plethora of fighting styles and numerous opportunities for Jaa to show them off, but the film lacks an assured directorial hand to confidently stage the arrogant, crowd-stopping set-pieces that made Jaa’s previous efforts so spectacular. Acclaimed action-director Panna Rittikrai, who choreographed those earlier outings, is credited as co-director alongside Jaa, but his artistry is lost amid the mud and blood, the choppy camera work and saturated visuals, making Ong-Bak 2 feel like Rambo without guns.

It is not giving anything away to state that the film is open-ended, hinting at a possible sequel as much as it betrays a panicked editing process without the full cooperation of its star/director. Sadly, however, the film fails to inspire any sense of excitement in its audience, nor curiosity to know what will happen next. In fact, the only real question left in the balance is whether Tony Jaa will ever be allowed to direct another film again – and for the greater good of all involved, especially Jaa himself, one can only hope the answer is a resounding no.

Brutal stuff indeed. It seems Ong-Bak 2 is a love-it-or-hate-it type of movie. And I love those kinds of films!

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2 comments:

  1. I thought the dance sequence was beautiful and hypnotic.

    The ending was very abrupt, but made me want to see part 3. Especially the flash forward to Jaa with all the facial hair.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I enjoyed the dancing as well. Knowing beforehand that Tony Jaa had studied traditional dance under Pichet Klunchun, I approached it with the understanding that Tony had worked hard on the piece, and I appreciated what he was attempting to do in blending martial arts and dance. I thought he succeeded.

    I also liked the Khmer traditional dancing by the lead actress.

    The ending was a surprise - I guess I was expecting closure of some sort. But now, like Jason, I'm eager to see Ong-Bak 3.

    ReplyDelete

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