This week various websites in the culture-starved world outside Thailand seized upon a teaser image for Ong-Bak 3 and called it "new" despite it having been released in Thailand by Sahamongkol Film International and published on various websites late last year. It was used on the annual desk calendar the film company gives out. I used it in January to illustrate a post about upcoming films in 2009.
Well, it turns out Ong-Bak 3 won't be coming out this year. It had been kind of penciled in for a December 5 release, as have been many films wanting to come out on that auspicious date in Thailand. But TwitchFilm.net, which has news about the project's promotion at the American Film Market, and says it's now looking like early 2010 for part two of the historical martial-arts magnum opus from Tony Jaa.
About this time last year, there was still fall-out over a meltdown Tony had during the production of Ong-Bak 2, and Tony's long-time mentor Panna Rittikrai went in to rescue the project that was meant to be his disciple's debut as director and martial-arts coordinator. As for Ong-Bak 3, who knows what's going on? Things have been quiet from the film set. Too quiet.
Meanwhile, Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning has been released in a video-on-demand run in the U.S. before a limited theatrical release on October 23.
It's coming out on October 16 in the U.K.. There, it's being called Ong-Bak: The Beginning, with distributor Revolver Entertainment saying it would rather not go into why it can't be called Ong-Bak 2.
Fair enough. But confusion reigns over whether Ong-Bak: The Beginning is a sequel or prequel to 2003's contemporary-set Ong-Bak, and if it's not related to the first Ong-Bak, then why is it called Ong-Bak?
The Guardian's Stuart Heritage is incredulous about the whole thing, and is really upset about Tony Jaa's treatment of elephants -- never mind that the actor has been doing backflips and somersaults off elephant's heads all his life and his family's herd of pachyderms just deals with it. But I'll let Heritage have the last word as he rants on:
So does Ong-Bak: The Beginning qualify as the most berserk sequel of all time? It would be easy to say yes, but perhaps we should wait for Ong-Bak 3 to be released first. If the pattern holds, one gets the impression that it'll be set in a parallel universe, a billion years in the future, and at some point Tony Jaa will fend off an army of enemies by kicking hundreds of baby koala bears at them. On the moon. We'll see.