Ong Bak 2

Release Date: October 23, 2009
Limited release

He will totally go to the jungle and pout if you don't like his movie.

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Position Staff In Brief
120/169 Max Braden Most of the movie is a lot of dramatic music and slow motion stares. The final battle is great though, notable even more for its blade work than for Jaa's trademark knees and elbows.

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Tony Jaa has the right idea. If life on the set of the film you’re in gets to be a bit much, and you actually have a jungle nearby that you can disappear into, why not pull an Agatha Christie-style vanishing act and take some time for yourself? The star of 2003's Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior and 2005's The Protector, still poised to be the next breakout figure in the world of movie martial arts (in the same way that soccer is still poised to be the next breakout sporting event here in the States), was indeed missing in action for nearly eight weeks last year, throwing a monkey wrench into a production that had seen various stops and starts for three years running. The added catch is that Jaa was also fight coordinator and director on the project. My thoughts wander – if Steven Seagal had pulled a similar stunt during the making of On Deadly Ground, might it have resulted in a more coherent movie, or at least better makeup and hair coloring for Michael Caine’s villain? The mind does boggle.

Shortly after a producer on the project gave a statement to the press about Jaa’s long term absence from the set, Jaa reappeared, contacting a senior police officer in the area with a story about being stalked by mysterious men. Whether this is what sent him into or out of the jungle remains uncertain. A few days later, Jaa appeared on a Thai talk show to explain himself, breaking down at one point as he offered that he had not abandoned the production, but gone off to "pursue his artistic quest". In this case, artistic quest may have been equal to "money requested," for after key issues of budget overruns and salary concerns were addressed and resolved, the film finished with Jaa’s mentor, martial arts choreographer Panna Rittikrai, standing watch over Jaa. Ong Bak 2 did make it out to Thailand in December of last year, becoming the biggest hit of the year when all was said and done.

The behind-the-scenes drama of the making of Ong Bak 2 sounds as if it would make a hell of an idea for a meta-narrative a la the incredible JCVD from 2008, with Jean-Claude Van Damme’s impressively beaten down and broken up version of himself. As it stands, the plot of Ong Bak 2 is rooted in the cliches of the genre: son sees noble father and much of immediate family/clan/village annihilated by power hungry warlord. Is rescued by a people well versed in fighting. Grows up wanting revenge. My guess is he gets it. The first Ong Bak had some novelty: the fight scenes were impressive and Jaa’s quest– to retrieve the Ong-Bak’s (Buddha statue) head that had been stolen from his impoverished village – allowed for some urban/rural humor to be sprinkled throughout.

At the very least, two months away from the set should have given Jaa time to think of an awesome secondary title for his personal project. Ong Bak 2: More Muay anyone? (Brett Beach/BOP)

Vital statistics for Ong Bak 2
Main Cast Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree, Sarunyu Wongkrachang
Supporting Cast Nirut Sirichanya, Santisuk Promsiri, Primorata Dejudom
Director Tony Jaa
Screenwriter Panna Rittikrai
Distributor Magnet Releasing
Official Site
Screen Count 12
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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