While Tony Jaa's Ong-Bak 2 is fading away at the Thai box office, its power is being sustained as it opens in other Asian territories.
It opened over New Year's weekend in Hong Kong, and was at No. 3, according to Box Office Mojo, bested by Lady Cop and Papa Crook and Donnie Yen's Ip Man. According to Variety, Ong-Bak 2 opened on 37 screens and took US$138,000 on its first day.
And reviews are continuing to roll in. Here's one from City on Fire (via TonyJaa.org):
There is no one who can touch Jaa. The actions is SPECTACULAR! Of 90 minutes. There is 30 minutes story, 60 minutes action. He shows the martial arts on film in a way not seen since Chang Cheh and Shaw Brothers film of the '70s. ...
If there were any debates that Jet or Jackie was the next Bruce Lee. Then you gotta give Jaa his props. He pays an homage to Jackie Chan's drunken master and crushes Chan's performance. One scene that impressed me was his Kung Fu Fist and Muay Thai fist vs 2 opponents. He switches styles back and forth throughout the fight.
Other elements, the music score is really fitting. Head banging right along with the action. Even the [khon] dance, that I thought would be a drag, they scored it just right and was great to see. Cinematography, thankfully, the camera pulls back and doesn't chop up the acting or the fighting.
Proper martial arts film - it's the hard, raw, kick ass ma film we have been waiting for since the days of Bruce Lee.
Ong-Bak 2 will be released in Singapore this coming weekend, and critics in the Merlion City are not near as enthralled.
Stefan at A Nutshell Review offers his reserved view, criticizing the ending and calling Ong-Bak 2 "half a movie":
Ong-Bak 2 picked up very slowly, and spent significant time developing the back story of Jaa's Tien. And unfortunately, I do admit unabashedly that I was waiting for action sequence one after another, and those in the same boat will have to be patient. For action junkies, your appetite will only be satiated in the last act of the film, where it's vintage Jaa as he dishes out punishment, and receives much of the same in return. I detested the ending which wrapped everything up so conveniently (I don't buy the Karma bit), or left subplots such as the romantic angle as something to be dwelled upon later (though I believe romance never really was an issue at all in Jaa's movies), leaving doors wide open for another film.
MovieXclusive's Richard Lim Jr. is more pointed in his criticism of Ong-Bak 2
The story for Ong-Bak 2 felt like it was just an excuse to get from one fighting sequences to another ... in the same manner as video games. Ironically, when the film tried to instill emotions, it became a drag as it’s neither convincing nor given the enough time to create the required sentiment.
The action sequences, which generally are what people pay for in a Tony Jaa movie, were a mixed bag. There are still some splendid trademark flying knee and elbow moments, but other than that, there are a lot to nitpick.
There’s also the “homage” to the previous kung-fu classics and other fighting methods that didn’t really go well with this Thai action movie. Personally, I would prefer to watch more of Muay Thai style of fighting in this Thai action movie than to see Tony Jaa mimic moments from Drunken Master and Game of Death. It would be interesting to see how Tony Jaa uses Muay Thai style against the various martial arts but instead we get a chunk of Tony Jaa doing a Chinese style of fighting which looked more silly than impressive.
Overall Ong-Bak 2 looked great visually but didn’t provide enough memorable fighting moments to hook viewers into the third part. It also makes one wonder if they are going to do a movie that is not related to the first one, wouldn’t it be better to rename this two-part movie so that the part two wouldn’t have to be named as part three instead?