‘Ong Bak 3′– Self-indulgent Tony Jaa loses way (IANS Movie Review)

March 19th, 2011 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Film: “Ong Bak 3″; Director: Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai; Actors: Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Nirut Sirichanya; Rating: *

Martial arts in cinema have been a domain of the Asians. Since the days of the first master Bruce Lee, there have been many like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, among others, who have taken martial arts in cinema to a different level.

A new successor to this legacy comes from Thailand and his name is Tony Jaa. Fans of martial arts worldwide have already been mesmerised by his pyrokinetics. But with this latest venture he proves he may have lost way in his quest for world cinematic martial arts domination.

Like most of Bruce Lee’s or Jackie Chan’s film, Tony Jaa’s film rarely has a story to boast of. Even for that the story and direction of “Ong Bak 3″, both by Tony Jaa, is a new low and the martial arts disappoint too.

After heir to the throne Prince Tiem is almost beaten to death by an evil king who has usurped his kingdom, he is brought back to life thanks to the blessings of the Buddha and he must now fight his adversaries to restore peace in the nation.

Audiences aware of Tony Jaa and his full contact, and Bruce Lee’s martial arts have seen proof that even in the days of special effects, pure physical action and a highly energetic lead will never run out of date.

However, as he has grown from strength to strength, Tony Jaa seems to forget his strength which is his physical abilities.

In “Ong Bak 3″, his reliance on wires and special effects to enhance special effects spoil the action. He is trying to outdo Chinese and Hollywood martial arts film, and that will prove to be his undoing.

For there is something beautiful about raw physical energy, to be able to see the body go beyond its stated potential, to see the mind follow the body instead of the other way round.

Former martial arts masters in films knew that. And so did Tony Jaa. Obvious from his film “The Protector” (2005) where a full five-minute long shot follows him moving from one floor to another, jumping, punching, kicking his adversaries. His stamina in that one scene, as in many others in his films, is sheer poetry.

However, in “Ong Bak 3″, he forgets that and though the cinematography is commendable, the film’s action, choreographed by Tony Jaa himself, is corrupted by special effects, loud, garish sound and the absolute unbelievability of the stunts compared to the believability of the same in previous films, even in the previous Ong Bak films.

Even extreme action junkies will balk with anger at “Ong Bak 3″ and find it hard to digest either the film or its action.

Tony Jaa is obviously aiming for Hollywood glory, but he would do well to remember what will take him there — not such bad special effects-laden action sequences, but raw, physical action. We all know he can do it.

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