Friday, March 19, 2004

'Ong Bak' proves a knockout.


One of my all-time favourite martial-arts films, a true classic from Thailand, is gaining some of the international acclaim it deserves, writes The Nation.

Ong Bak is real breath of fresh air for a genre of cinema that, in the main, has recently grown quite stale with the primarily Hong Kong-based producers wheeling out the same old formulae and casts.

A sacred old Buddha's head is stolen from a village temple, dooming the village unless it can be recovered. The protagonist sets out for Bangkok on the trail of the stolen artefact where he must deal with all-manner of underground activities and criminals. Along the way, his physical prowess, dexterity and skill as both an athlete and martial artist are displayed in some amazing ways.

The film features some of the most amazing stunts I've seen in a long time and, if you can track down the "making of" DVD or VCD, you'll see that many of the most amazing stunts (performed by the lead, himself an experienced stuntman) are pretty close to the real deal and some cases are.

Oh yeah, you also get to see some brilliant demonstrations of Muay Thai Chaiyuth, the traditional Thai martial art that forms the basis of today's more commercial Thai boxing.

The plot is actually quite thin but it doesn't matter. You don't need to understand Thai to enjoy this film as the story is very simple, easy to figure out and, let's face it, doesn't matter - the action is fantastic.

I've always loved the work of Luc Besson but he's really impressed my by taking on the distribution of this film.

What else can I say? If you like action, you'll love Ong Bak.

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