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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Ong Bak. Sorry for the trouble.

Ong Bak

Friday, November 26, 2004

Photo source: OngBak.co.kr

If any of you are old school martial arts fans then you must watch Ong Bak, which is currently running in theatres around the island. I watched it last night and it is too good. It's easily the best martial arts flick I've watched since Jackie Chan's Drunken Master 2 came out way back in 1994. And just like early Jackie Chan films, Tony Jaa (the star of Ong Bak) uses no wirework or CG effects.

One of the things I hate about recent martial arts films is that each combo is chopped up into way too many different camera shots, zooming in on a body part, and then the face, and then the spectators, then to the opponent, and so on. So we never get to appreciate the beauty of the combo in its continuous entirety. Ong Bak however does it old school. Each of the really amazing blows, jumps, or combos are not only presented in one full camera shot, but we get to see slo-mo double takes from different camera angles to really enjoy Tony Jaa's amazing skills.

Another reason why I think I enjoyed the movie so much is because I have never seen Muay Thai used in a (good) movie before. Most people are by now quite familiar with the Kung-Fu/Wushu featured in countless martial arts films, but this is brand new. There's alot of knees and elbows which means very close contact fighting, and the skull-cracking is something you won't see in "Muay Thai Kickboxing" matches on TV.

And best of all the movie is packed with fighting and stunts... the plot is secondary. Tony Jaa is being billed as the next Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan, and there is talk of him being picked up by Hollywood. But God I hope he doesn't go to Hollywood, where he'll be forced to do stupid movies which put the plot before the action. But he's definitely good enough to be Lee's and Chan's successor.

So anyways, if you're sick of all the rubbish Wire-Fu and Hollywood-Fu martial arts movies then definitely watch Ong-Bak.

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6 Responses to 'Ong Bak'

Blogger sume says:

I've never heard of these guys. Oh, how we're deprived over here. Some of Jet Li's earlier work was promising before he became Hollywoodised. His Once Upon a Time in China series is one of my favorites. It's a bit plot-heavy, but I like that.

I'm glad to hear they show them in theaters there. We have to wait until they come on cd and by then they're butchered beyond recognition. Thanks for the heads up! Now I have something else to look forward to! Oh yeah, subbed or dubbed? I hate dubbed.    

Blogger Scorpio says:

Sorry Chan'ad but I just can't see the attraction of Kung Fu movies. The few I've watched - Meals on wheels etc - have all the drama and spontaneity of WWF Wrestling.

I can't believe that after the debacle that was Kill Bill, Tarantino's next project is another try at Kung Fu with this time the actors speaking Cantonese and then being badly overdubbed into English to give it an authentic feel. Pur-lease.

The guy's ability to make movies may be receding faster than his hairline, but his proposed WW2 epic, Inglorious Bastards, still sounds awesome. From what I understand it'd be a remake of Saving Private Ryan, but this time with a band of stars using the excuse of looking for a fallen comrade/Nazi loot to go on a demolition derby across France.    

Blogger shawarmaboy says:


ANY and I mean ANY movie with a quasi plot to blow up FRANCE will have a sizable built in draw in the US. Regardless of the timeline of the film or the hairling of the writer/director.    

Blogger Chanad says:
11/28/2004 01:31:00 am

Sume, the reason why haven't heard about the movie yet is because it won't be released in the US until Feb '05. But I assume you'll have left by then and will be able to watch it on the island. The good thing is that the movie is subbed in English... however for some reason it was also dubbed in French which was very annoying! I have no idea why, but don't worry, it's not something they do commonly here.
I'm not huge on Jet Li for some reason, but 'Once Upon a Time in China' is definitely a good watch (I've only seen Part 1,... are 2 & 3 better?).

Scorpio: I can understand why some people don't find Kung Fu cinema appealing, but please don't compare it WWF. In order to enjoy Kung Fu flicks you have to try and ignore the plot and the terrible acting. Focus on the action and view it as a ballet. The actors are usually extremely talented martial artists with years and years of intense training. Watch them use their bodies to evoke emotions and enjoy the beauty of the shapes they create... the rhythm, the symmetry, the imagery. The movies are also usually loaded with spirituality if you dig in to them.

With regards to Tarantino, I'm afraid I rather enjoyed both of the Kill Bills... not necessarily because they were all that good, but because they are the greatest tributes to Samurai and Kung-Fu cinema traditions by Hollywood yet. And it was great to see the legendary Gordon Liu playing the white-haired Pai Mei. I imagine the character might have been inspired by the master in the 70s classic "7 Grandmasters" which features a secret fist-style also named Pai Mei.

Anyways... watch Ong Bak... amazing amazing.    

Blogger Scorpio says:
11/28/2004 11:12:00 pm

Lol Shawarma - yeah I wouldn't be surprised that after recently retelling WW2 as the story of exclusively American heroics, Hollywood take it to the next stage and make Hitler French rather than German.

Has anyone ever seen Monkey Magic? The Japanese TV series is about as close to appreciating Eastern martial arts as I've got. What fantastic programmes - telling the adventures of a monk and his companions as they cross China to India. But with characters such as the pig monster, Pigsy, I'm not sure if it was big it was in this next of the woods.

To go to Monkey Heaven: http://www.monkeyheaven.com/    

Blogger sume says:
11/29/2004 03:35:00 am

Chan'ad, I wouldn't say 2 and 3 were better. I can't remember 4 and 5 except that Jet Li was glaringly absent from 5. I suppose like usual I got sucked in and ended up just watching the series to see how it all ends.

I just tossed my entire collection including some of the very earliest Jackie Chan. I think I'm going to be sick.    

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