Movie Reviews 134 – Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008)

Ong Bak 2If anyone thinks this is even remotely a sequel or prequel to Ong Bak, forget about it. When they added “The Beginning” to the title they meant something closer to the beginning of time, not the beginning or origin of the character in the first movie. The original tale of a villager trying to reacquire a revered statuette head from big city thugs was set in contemporary times, but this movie goes all the way back to the Thailand jungles circa 200 A.D. About the only thing linking the two is star Tony Jaa and a small cameo role for his costar in the first movie.

This is more of a cliche story about a kid growing up to avenge his murdered parents. The catch is that unlike most stories in which the kid grows up in a righteous environment, nurtured as a ‘do gooder’, here the kid is immediately scooped up by a band of thieves and pirates and slowly ascends within the ranks of the bad guys. The audience cheers the protagonist but only grudgingly so. Of course at the end he ends up battling with the leaders of the clan, but you could see that coming, right?

It’s only a little bit more complex than that with a bit of a twist at the end and the twist itself was just another nonsensical plot element. In fact, the ending is more like a leadup to a sequel. There are plenty of nifty battles, but I thought it was rather ho-hum and run of the mill. Like I stated in my review of the first movie, Tony Jaa comes up a bit short when compared to the true legends of martial arts.

Not surprisingly, there is an Ong Bak 3 which I guess I’ll get around to watching someday. But I’ll be sure to get in a few screenings of Lee, Li, and Chan before that.

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