Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 had left off. Tien is captured and almost beaten to death before he is saved and brought back to the Kana Khone villagers. There he is taught meditation ... See full summary »
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Jean-Claude Van Damme,
Ong Bak 3 picks up where Ong Bak 2 had left off. Tien is captured and almost beaten to death before he is saved and brought back to the Kana Khone villagers. There he is taught meditation and how to deal with his Karma, but very soon his arch rival returns challenging Tien for a final duel. Written by
Tony Jaa is an incredible athletic specimen, and his last three films "Ong Bak" (2003), "Tom Yum Goong" (2005), and "Ong Bak 2" (2008) were fantastic exhibitions of buttkicking. Considering the production hell that "Ong Bak 2" endured, it seemed like Jaa could do no wrong. But then something unexpected happened. He pulled a Dave Chapelle on us and stuck a big middle finger at his fans. Instead of sucking it up like a man and simply enduring the last few years on his contract, Jaa chose the crybaby route and ran like a child into the woods. I was still looking forward to "Ong Bak 3" (2010) despite the horrible online buzz it has been getting, because deep down inside I was hoping that Jaa would give us one last exhibition of glory before taking a (hopefully) temporary vacation for the next few years. Unfortunately, he left us a fluff piece that's merely watchable.
This picks up immediately after "Ong Bak 2" ends, with Jaa being captured, tortured and beaten. Much of the first hour is dedicated to his rescue and recovery, which might get on the bad side of action junkies but this part of the film is actually decent despite a weak storyline (pretty environments and good scoring do help to hold one's interest). The script basically sucks, and is actually a downgrade from "Ong Bak 2" (which at least had a number of cool characters and scenarios). I seriously question the whole "king curse" element that was introduced in this film. I guess it could have worked in theory, but the execution leaves much to be desired.
Of course, no one watches Jaa's films for award-winning scriptwriting, which means that the fighting represents the one major element that simply must work in order to earn entertainment value. One thing the viewer will notice in "Ong Bak 3" is that the degree of difficulty of the martial arts choreography is not nearly as high as Jaa's previous works. There's quite literally not one awe-inspiring exchange in the entire film, and it's obvious that Jaa was sleepwalking through this because his presence feels superfluous. It's no exaggeration to say that any B-grade Thai action star (e.g., Mike B., etc.) could have been inserted into the lead role and the film would have lost very little. The choreography itself is too simplistic to be memorable, and for the first time ever I felt like Jaa's take downs got repetitive after a while.
Now that's not to say that the fighting completely stinks. "Mediocre" for Tony Jaa is "good" for everyone else, which means that the action in "Ong Bak 3" is engaging enough to be moderately entertaining. One big blunder though was having Dan Chupong carry the load as the lead antagonist. It irritates me that people are talking this guy up like he's gonna be the next big thing when in reality he's only slightly above average in his athleticism and skill. "Dynamite Warrior" (2006) was terrible and "Born To Fight" (2004) was entertaining more for its other half dozen protagonists and unintentional hilarity than Chupong's physical skills. His punches and kicks look incredibly flimsy and weak when captured in wide camera angles and he doesn't have much in terms of diverse moves. If you want to rely on someone while Jaa is gone, check out Indonesian action star Iko Uwais who recently gave us the impressive feat of awesomeness known as "Merantau" (2009).
"Ong Bak 3" comes with a very reserved, marginal recommendation. In reality it's on the same level as something like "The Sanctuary" (2009) or "The Bodyguard" (2004) and comes off like a poor man's version of "Ong Bak 2." Jaa's typical critics you know, the people with awful taste in action films will have a field day lambasting this one while giving it a 1/10 rating. Jaa's fans will be justifiably underwhelmed, and could probably skip it entirely without missing much of anything.
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