'Ong Bak 3' Review By Bryan Yentz

... Here's holding out for a possible "Ong Bak 4: The Apology".
  • OVERALL
    1.5
    POOR
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Going into the early screening of Ong Bak: 3, I couldn't help but wonder how in the world Jaa and crew were going to outdo their previous entry which nary contained a scene without bone-snapping brutality. Hell, even its finale was a literal twenty minute bout between Jaa and a multitude of attackers. Where Ong Bak: 1 was an introduction to the powerhouse that was/is Tony Jaa, the second installment was the stylish pinnacle which took every aspect of his martial arts to new flair-filled heights. So it's understandable that expectations would (and should) be high for this concluding segment of the Ong Bak mythos. Sadly, this third and final addition to the series falls flat on its white-belt ass by avoiding what audiences are clamoring to see and instead, focuses (and fails) on what no one truly cared for in the first place.

The story (if you can call it that), is a continuation of the events of Ong Bak: 2. After the ridiculous ending of the second film, things pick up in the third as Tien (Jaa) is repeatedly beaten to a pulp by the evil emperor and his men. Practically dead, he's revived only to come back from the ethereal plain an emotionally and physically ruined individual. Frustrated and in pain, Tien must fight his own personal demons so that he may fight once more--for his people; for his lady-love. That's the simple explanation. If I were to go into more detail about the oh-so broken narrative I'd probably give myself an aneurism. On the storytelling front, this movie is a piece of garbage. Fifteen minutes in, it becomes such a convoluted tale of self-redemption, magic, seizure-inducing flashes, dreams, dancing, lightning bolts, crows, and elephants that there is practically no way to actually discern what the hell is going on. Herein lies the flick's biggest pitfall. In an attempt at sloppy narrative, Jaa (who again directed) compromises the best thing this series had going for it: the action. For the most part, this feels like a self-fulfilling flick--I'm talking M. Night Shyamalan fulfillment, people. Jaa would rather observe the inner trials and tribulations of Bak's central character than watch him kick ass. These segments are so over-dramatized that it appears as though Jaa was going for an Oscar for his performance, rather than a serious workout tossin' baddies left and right. Seriously, this film contains so many training montages that the entertainment factor is nearly killed halfway through. Instead of an onslaught of jump-kicks and knee slams we get dancing. Instead of a constant stream of palm-hits and punches, we get cheesy black smog that goes in and out of people's noses. Instead of truly unique and creative sequences of awesome, we get elephants which pull massive statues--through the air!!! Like a f*cking baseball!!! And don't even get me started on the cop out "rewind" scene, or Jaa's ability to toss lightning bolts from the sky and give sleep-inducing headaches to evil-doers. I'd greatly appreciate a thorough explanation if anyone's got one. Anybody? No?

And as for them action bits...

Well, when they do crop up, they somewhat entertain. The immediacy of the violence during the film's introduction is just groovy, but once over, is paced very poorly. Long stretches of nothing-in-particular cloud the film and cause viewer's eyes to be weighed down rather than drying out from how wide with surprise they should be. Some moments allowed a smile to crest my face while others elicited a brief man-giggle of excitement. But these were few and far between. When my favorite part was a five-second utilization of a bamboo shoot as a weapon--you know there's a problem. And I just have to say that the film's climax (aside from an issue already hinted at above), is just pathetic when considering what was again accomplished with the finale of Ong Bak: 2.

Apparently the filmmakers really wanted this denouement to crash and burn because the movie also falters horribly in the technical department. Poorly rendered effects are littered throughout, editing is disjointed, improper long-shots are chosen to depict scenes, blurred images, out of focus shots, and one of the most unintentionally hilarious repeated zooms in cinematic history make this film hard to appreciate even by die-hard, patronizing fans.

Taking into consideration that this was a market premiere, there is still time before a wide release for this film's issues to be smoothed out--mainly in that of the technical department. As for the version I witnessed, however, it was a complete and utter mess , whose audience couldn't stop laughing after the first thirty minutes. Here's holding out for a possible "Ong Bak 4: The Apology".

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Comments (15)

  1. Bryan Yentz

    Haha, Supes... I am so confused by what some of these users are saying...

    3 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  2. Dan

    Lol, catching hell for this review, @bryanyentz, you gotta love it, man :D

    3 years agoby @dan1Flag

  3. Tudors

    @ Bryan Yentz......When you make your own martial arts movie, I will respect your comments, sucker!!!

    3 years agoby @TudorsFlag

  4. Bryan Yentz

    @MaelstrolvoryEbony

    ?

    4 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  5. MaestroIvoryEbony

    Why do people flock to rumors and spread them as if they are fact?... This film is bloody for sure and that is too bad, but that is the culture of this "sport". However, Jaa may not have been in full control of the film or his role in it as the rumors suggest. Try to read between the lines and wish this man well for all the gifts his personal sacrifice to his art has given you. His training and dedication as well as his talent is not for YOU.... Try to understand it, don't insult the man who is free and is not your slave. Artists are all priests, monks and profits - be it in martial arts or these of music. There are many fakes and frauds out there. I am sure we can all agree that Tony Jaa is not one of them. I wish his ego to be strong as it is this film and take the PR with a grain of salt as I wish it for all of you. Strong arm tactics with Jaa are most likely, but we will never know the full truth. I only wish him well and thank him for all he has shared and fought to share with us. Having said this, I also hope fate will present him and us with his ability in the future.

    4 years agoby @MaestroIvoryEbonyFlag

  6. ChuChi

    I AGREE BRYAN.. HOPE HIS NEXT FILM WILL BE BETTER

    4 years agoby @josedrosaFlag

  7. Bryan Yentz

    An everyone else, a big thanks for the comments.

    4 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  8. Bryan Yentz

    Calm down there, Boonoon. The film is like every other revenge film because it tries to teach "rising above it", which is ridiculous when you think about it because you have a man trying to "rise above it" by simply finding a peaceful way to kick the sh*t out of people, which is an oxymoron unto itself. And I don't give a damn if there's a lot of philosophy to the film if it's handled in such a sloppy, utterly pretentious way. Just because a film has a message, doesn't mean I'm going to gush all over it. The themes at work here are messages that have been done to death which shows your lack of knowledge in not only the world of cinema, but narratives of any kind as well. Is it possible to adopt these messages even though it's been done for an eternity already? Yes, yes it is. Does Ong Bak accomplish that? Not in the least. These "thoughtful applications" might have blown your mind, but for me and nearly all of those that I've spoken to about the film, it wasn't anything you didn't learn from a children's book or even the original Karate Kid.

    As for set design and costuming, I found it simply, "meh". Nothing surprised me and I still find the wardrobe and set designs from Ong Bak 2 to be superior. And then the music, here you've gotta be kidding me. Again, for those naive to this brand of music, then yes, I'd understand if you were again, blown away. For those of us more experienced in the musical territory however, it was--like it's messages--rather tired. While I dig this combination of heavy guitar grinding and pounding percussion mixed with a classical style, it's been done many a time and FAR better. Ong Bak 3 didn't have bad music, just average.

    Next time you feel the need to lambast a critic, just remember that everyone has their own opinion. You don't need to pretend as if you're the only one that "gets it". Trust me, we all did too, we just didn't buy it.

    I'm glad this could rock your mental socks off, but it was just pretentious drivel to me.

    4 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  9. Smartchai Boonnoon

    What a really retarded movie review if I ever read one ! 'Ong-Bak 3' makes sense out of the first two films (especially the second one) ! It also explains the origin and significance of the Ong-Bak statue. It's a revenge story like no other because it's really about how one can learn to rise above it. There is a lot of Thai Buddhist philosophy in this movie that will make you think. There is also a lot of symbolism that you have to look for. Those two aforementioned tasks require a brain ! If you're just looking for dumb and mindless action, then look somewhere else ! The soundtrack was one of the most mesmerizing ones I've ever heard ! The costumes and sets were really beautiful ! I also loved the rock song played during the end credits which has a lot of meaning for those who can understand Thai. People who are retarded, don't really love Muay Thai, or don't like Thai classical dance won't enjoy this film. This movie has substance as well as style ! There is enough of both "eye candy" AND "mind candy" to satisfy the intelligent and open-minded viewer. Are there any such individuals out there ??

    4 years agoby @smartchai-boonnoonFlag

  10. Dan

    I loved the first Ong Bak, some of the best fighting I've ever watched. "I" felt sore from watching some of the hits done in it. Never saw Ong Bak 2 or 3 though.

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  11. Russell22

    Ong bak 2 wasn't exactly great in the first place. Ong Bak and The warrior king were both superb but OB 2 was pretty mediocre and the fights seemed to have taken a step back from the amazing work done if the first film. i really hope Jaa wakes up and gets his old director back or at least push his career in the states..with jackie chan on his last legs and pushing 60 there is a vacancy for him whch he cant be bothered to fullfil and leave Thailand.

    4 years agoby @russell22Flag

  12. Bodyface

    Wow...excellent review actually.
    I saw this movie last night and I could not have been more excited. Every single movie that Tony Jaa has made so far has gotten better and better and now......this?
    If you have not seen the movie yet, this will be hard to believe: It is nearly unwatchable.
    I read a VERY interesting article about the situations involving Jaa and how control of Ong Bok 3 was basically taken from him from the directorial standpoint.
    Tony Jaa directed Ong Bok 2...he fell so far behind budget though that another director (his former mentor Panna Rickta-whatever was brought in to finish the film, even though it was basically finished).
    Tony Jaa, disgusted by the way he was treated did not want to make Ong Bok 3, he was strong armed into doing it by mobsters basically.
    All this is just such a shame. Ong Bok 3 could have and should have been the culmination of Jaa's career, he is in his prime and the story (little sense that it made) from Ong Bok 2 was genuinely interesting in a "What the F*uck)" kinda way.
    So disappointed I cannot express. I just hope that Jaa comes back pissed off for real...

    4 years agoby @bodyfaceFlag

  13. TheWatcher

    I heard that there was a real problem with Jaa during filming of the 2nd and 3rd movie. More so, I read that Jaa only did the 3rd film to fulfill his contract. After he finished shooting, he actually left to go live in a ministry, he's still there with a shaved head and no one knows when/if he'll be back.
    Basically, he had a meltdown, or some sh*t like that.

    4 years agoby @thewatcherFlag

  14. Bryan Yentz

    You're right, Kartikey, Jaa does rock. This conclusion to the trilogy, however--doesn't. There's nothing in here about me disliking Jaa--just the choices he made. State your issues with the review not a whiny statement and I'd be happy to further describe my stance.

    4 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  15. Kartikey

    what a garbage review.tony jaa rocks

    4 years agoby @kartikeyFlag