Ong Bak 3: The Martial Art of Contractual Obligation


Returning to the feudal 15th-century Siamese setting of Ong Bak 2, this cutting-room-floor-sweepings-disguised-as-a-sequel picks up at the last movie’s cliffhanger, with Tien (co-director/ star Tony Jaa) surrounded. At the order of Saranyu Wongkrachang’s warlord, Tien is beaten until he could run through a sieve. Thus martyred, he is resurrected through Buddhist hocus pocus with his body twisted and gnarled, and rehabilitated through monk pep talks, auto-chiropractics, synchronized tai-chi with his girlfriend, meditation in waterfalls, and growing a beard. One cannot recall a movie so padded by slow-motion, egregious flashbacks, and training montages since Rocky IV, which at least had the benefit of being engagingly insane. Here, while Jaa does physical therapy, the only entertainment is courtesy Dan Chupong as goth-demon “Bhuti,” who usurps the title of evil despot from Wongkrachang in the best fight scene, and lifts the movie from Jaa in the process. (Ong Bak 3 is nearly over by the time Tien’s out of the shop.) Signifying his indifference to earthly concerns like cinematic storytelling, Jaa last year retired into a Buddhist monastery. Once considered the new rock star of martial arts, he has here entered his period of contractual-obligation boredom.