I’m fairly certain that Tony Jaa is not a real human being. If he were flesh and blood, there’s no way he would be able to perform the stunts, the martial-arts mash-ups and acrobatics on display in the spectacle that is Ong Bak 2. For gods sake, the man surfs a herd of elephants here! Who can do that?!
Ong Bak 2 is not the perfect Thai movie it wants to be, but not for lack of effort by all involved. Least of all Jaa, who is credited with not only the starring role but also as writer, director, producer and martial arts choreographer! Perhaps the man simply wore too many hats for this production to truly succeed on every level. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to love here, in this prequel to the original 2003 hit film. It looks fantastic with wonderful photography and production design. The acting is surprisingly good for an action film. And it goes without saying that the action is beyond top-notch.
Ong Bak 2 ultimately fails in the storytelling department. The film has all the ingredients of a perfect martial arts revenge story – boy sees parents killed, is trained by thieves in multiple disciplines, finds parents’ killer and exacts revenge – but drops the ball in its structure and character building. We understand what most scenes are supposed to mean to the story but the connective fabric seems to have been given a miss. There’s a lot more drama to be milked out of this story, if only anyone had spent the time to take advantage of it. But judging from the ending, which kind of just jumps out at you from nowhere, this film is only the first part of a tale that will continue in the upcoming Ong Bak 3.
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning is stunning on Blu-ray. That’s not to say that it’s a perfect transfer and encode. But it’s quite often breathtaking, with its striking locations and use of colour. If you look closely, however, you’ll find inconsistent black levels and the odd occurrence of colour banding. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 makes up for anything lacking in the visuals. The film sounds great on Blu!
There are a ton of special features to dig into here and if you’re a fan of the film series or of Jaa I think you’ll be more than pleased. The English subtitled, 21-minute “Making of Ong Bak 2” is quite comprehensive and provides a lot of candid footage and interview clips with the cast and crew. Three “Behind the Scenes” featurettes deliver even more footage of Jaa and his team rehearsing, filming and assembling the movie. There are a further 25-minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, culled, for the most part, from segments of the “making of” docs. The disc is rounded out by an “HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 2” introduction to the film, exclusive footage of the upcoming sequel, Ong Bak 3 and some trailers.