After what felt like an eternity, Tony Jaa left the confines of his murky cave to deliver a follow up to break out movie Ong Bak. It's worth mentioning at this point, however, that Ong Bak 2 bares no relation to the original smash hit. This is a sequel in name alone. Talk about troubled shoots. After going way over budget, the first time director and star abandoned production and escaped to a secluded hideaway until his mentor - Ong Bak director Panna Rittikrai - stepped in to save the film.
As a result, Ong Bak 2 feels like it’s only telling half the story, which it most certainly is, because Ong Bak 3 was released to critical derision shortly afterwards. Compared to the disappointment of Part 3, Ong Bak 2 is pretty much a cinematic masterpiece. It's all about perception, you see.
Let's be brutally honest here, Ong Bak 2 has no plot to speak of. There are hints of a forgotten script lurking beneath the bloodshed, but Jaa's comeback amounts to little more than a string of well-choreographed fight scenes strung together with a reckless disregard for viewer intelligence.
Jaa plays Tien, a young boy raised by bandits and taught in the arts of warfare. You name it, he does it. Every martial arts discipline is battered and bruised during the course of the movie, and no move goes unpunished. A love story is introduced, as are an assortment of characters, but they too are swept away by the crouching leg sweeps and uninspired action sequences.
Don't get me wrong, sometimes all you need is mindless action, but even the action sequences lack the originality of the first film. Ong Bak came with some mesmerising stunts, so good in fact, you had to see them twice. Three times even. Remember the scene where Tony Jaa is chased through a crowded street by thugs? Of course you do, it was mesmerising.
Ong Bak 2 presents us with a series of fights and precious little else. The creativity clearly went missing too, but unlike the film's leading man, it never came back to this lacklustre sequel. Tien never appears vulnerable because we never get to know anything about him. There are some nice moments, even if most of them do involve elephants, but nothing here comes close to the pulse-pounding power of the original movie. Though it would be harsh to leave without mentioning the lush cinematography, Ong Bak 2 is beautiful in places.
The ending is sudden, paving the way for part 3. The cut was made in order for part 2 to see the light of day, but it doesn't do the completed picture any favours at all. I was really looking forward to this, but for all its kick ass confectionary and bloody warfare, Ong Bak 2 lacks anything approaching storyline, character and creativity.
The elephant sequences are really cool, and action completists might get a kick out of it, but Ong Bak 2 takes a shot in the dark and misses the mark completely. AW