Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Tony Jaa = Amazing

In Movies on June 25, 2010 at 1:04 am

Yeah, I know. What an insightful comment. I’m sure international action sensation Tony Jaa can finally firmly place his final feather in his cap by winning my hard-earned approval. For those of you who don’t know, Tony Jaa is the highly acrobatic and athletic action star from Thailand who enjoyed a huge breakout in Ong Bak, a classic story of a country boy going to the city and inevitably crushing skulls with flying elbows and knees.

The thing with Ong Bak, however, was that I was really not instantly captivated by Jaa on-screen persona. I found he lacked the natural charisma and badassity that many other action stars effortlessly possess. He lacked a certain swagger or magnetism, I suppose, that I was hoping to see after hearing all the hype about this guy. You can guess what he did have, however. Yes, he has maybe the most jaw-dropping action-movie fighting ability and stunt-agility I have ever witnessed. I mean, simply spellbinding.

You see, back when I was in high school, one of my best friends got REALLY into Hong Kong martial arts. Huge into it. So big that he went into film school to be in the business of making cinematic action and honed himself into a stunt performer. So, thanks to hanging out with him, I was exposed to some pretty great stuff well before most people I knew. Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, and Jet Li were very well known to me before they had American releases, though compared to international fanship, I was late to the game. During that time, I accumulated a pretty discerning amateur appreciation for the joy of fight choreography, direction, and performance. That was when my eyes really opened about what action could be like at a time when people were still being impressed with slow-mo, Van Damme split kicks. I felt like I was watching something unbelievable; something otherworldly.

The other night, I was started watching Ong Bak 2 on Netflix and I got that feeling all over again. Like the first one, this, movie didn’t do much for me in terms of pacing, acting, or plot. But the fighting…oh the fighting. The last 25 minutes of this film are otherworldly, with specific sequences being so sublime that I felt myself grinning giddily. The combination of grittiness and artistry, strength and creativity…it’s really something.

So, since it’s on Netflix Watch Instantly, do yourself a favor and watch those fight scenes.

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  1. Boy… Ong Bak 2 was bad though…. PPPPPPPPPP. UUUUUUUUUU. STINKY!

    • Yeah, it was really not very good. But it seemed to have higher production values than the first. The first one seemed to have been shot on snuff-film grade film or 1997 camcorder video.

  2. Strange how the obviously increased effort also increased the terribleness. I guess the first one was all heart… and kicking.

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