Ong-Bak: Platinum Edition
PREMIER ASIA

 
Starring:
Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao
Directed By:
Prachya Pinkaew
Year:
2003
Run Time:
1 hour 48 mins
Producer: Premier Asia
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Languages:
THAI 5.1, English 5.1 *No Thai DTS option on review disc*
Subtitles:
English, English Hearing Impaired
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
1.85:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 2
Genre:
Action - 18 (UK)
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MOVIE
7/10

** After reading a brief summary of the different cuts of the film available, it appears this is the "Luc Besson International Cut", which contains edits to the sound effects and levels of graphic violence, plus a different score**

With talk of the discovery of the “Next Bruce Lee” and “New Jackie Chan” surrounding this film like moths around a flame, I was desperate to check out this latest Thai import .

Ting (Tony Jaa) is the country bumpkin, and lethal Muay Thai exponent, who is sent to reclaim his village temple's stolen Buddha's head. During his quest to find the artifact, he becomes embroiled in the world of an underworld fight club, and must use his skills to save his village and his friends.

The plot and characters are instantly forgettable – you’ll have seen the tired excuse for a plot a million times before, and done better in many cases. The characters are as paper-thin you're ever likely to see, and In order to side-step Tony Jaa’s embarrassingly high-pitched voice, the rightly action takes center stage.

Petchtai Wongkamlao's charisma holds much of the non-action segments of the film together, as a quite awe-inspiring number of inept actors appear onscreen and induces the symptoms of "finger hovering over Off button"-itus.
The rest of the actors fail to either engage your mind or heart, and often irritate massively - in much the same way as Tony Jaa's David Beckham-esque voice does.
However, the tension is built impressively by director Prachya Pinkaew before Ting finally cuts loose, showing us his array of skills, and from that point on the film's plot is eschewed for the sake of the action set-pieces.

Now, let me just clear this up: Jaa is neither the new Bruce Lee, nor the next Jackie Chan: He doesn’t have Lee’s intensity or charisma, or Chan’s warmth or acting ability.
What he does have though is an amiable on-screen presence and an ability to execute a mind-blowing variety of flips, kicks and elbows with incredible style and dexterity.

The action sequences utilise a hyped-up Muay Thai style, with the addition of some gymnastic flips and extravagant kicking techniques. The direction during the action sequences is impressive, as stunts are executed without wires and with LOTS of foot-to-face contact. Whilst this certainly impresses, and adds a raw energy to much of the film, the action can occasionally begin to numb you after a while.
The films conclusion is typically brutal and inventive, yet the film still feels as if a few too many loose threads have been left hanging.

This is really the archetypal “post-pub movie” – you don’t need to pay attention to the story, and being somewhat half-cut is probably a positive when approaching most of the acting, but for action fans, this can hardly be faulted.

PICTURE
6/10

After the exemplary quality of Brotherhood’s transfer, maybe my expectations were unfairly raised.

A good start, with a print devoid of any distracting marks, is sadly let down by a print lacking in fine detail. Some scenes look a lot better than others, but things become particularly ropey during Jaa’s scene in a cave. A rather strange haze effect skips around the screen and makes an already murky image all the more distracting.

Colours are good, and artifacts are minimal, but this doesn’t hit the heights of Premier Asia’s recent offerings.

SOUND
6/10

The sound effects seem slightly out of synch at times during the fight sequences – strikes land, but the sound-effects appear to be missing or extremely muted. I don’t know if this is intentional, or a by-product of the new soundtrack, but I found it slightly distracting.

Music is well produced though, and dialogue is also generally clear.

** Please note that the soundtrack has been re-written for this UK release. Accordingly, I have downgraded the mark for Sound Quality as I find it extremely frustrating not to have been given the option to listen to the film in its original form. **

SUBTITLES
7/10

My grasp of Thai is non-existent, so spotting any minor discrepancies with its translation is impossible.
However, I was surprised at the inclusion of a few very colloquial English terms such as “bugger off”, and struggle to fully believe that's what has been scripted.

Other than that, the subs do their job well with the basic dialogue.

EXTRAS
8/10

** DTS and the Bey Logan Commentary are missing from the review disc I was provided with, so I cannot comment on those aspects of the Platinum Edition.**

Cutting Room Floor
Divine Inspiration
Three-Point Rendezvous
Two-Wheel taxi
Looking for Trouble
Money For Noodles
Deity Valued
Close to Death
Alternate ending

The Promotional Archive
The Art of Muay Thai
Ong-Bak On Tour
UK Promo Trailer
The Making of Ong-Bak
From Dust to Glory - an Interview with Tony Jaa

Fight Club
Visible Secret: Rehearsal Footage Montage
The Bodyguard: An Interview with Don Ferguson
Mad Dog: An Interview With with David Ismalone
Pearl Harbour: An Interview With Erik Markus Sheitz

A very good set of extras is provided by the folks at Premier Asia.
The most interesting is undoubtedly the segmented Making Of...clips, which mix lots of behind-the-scenes footage with input from the cast and crew.
Most disappointing is the barely 3 minute interview with Tony Jaa - for someone lauded as the "new Bruce Lee/Jackie Can" etc, it came as a great surprise to have so little time spent with him one-to-one.

Overall, the extras will certainly entertain and enlighten fans of the film, and are split into bite-sized chunks so as to make viewing much easier.

CONCLUSION
7/10

If I'm being brutally honest, I was slightly disappointed with Ong-Bak - with so much hype surrounding the film, and so many comparisons being made to action stars past and present, my expectations had been raised to an almost unmatchable level.
However, if you like your action rough and ready, and don't require your brain to be engaged during a nights viewing, Ong-Bak will certainly meet your requirements.

MOVIE 7/10
PICTURE
6/10
SOUND
6/10
SUBTITLES
7/10
EXTRAS
8/10
MENUS
7/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL 7/10