Ong Bak 3
Year of release: 2010
Genre: martial arts
Directors: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Action director: Tony Jaa
Producers: Tony Jaa, Somsak Techaratanaprasert
Writers: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Cinematography: Nattawut Kittikhun
Music: Terosak Janpan
Editors: Saravut Nakajud, Nattawut Kittikhun
Stars: Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Nirut Sirichanya, Petchtai Wongkamlao, Dan Chupong, Chumphorn Thepphithak
Rated R for violence
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The third and final (?) entry in the Ong Bak series has been very divisive among fans of martial arts movies and critics in general. The movie was filmed back-to-back along with the second film, which resulted in a long shoot that seemed to send star Tony Jaa over the deep end, as he left the set for several months to head off into the jungles of Thailand to become a monk. The absence of Jaa leads to Ong Bak 3 feeling very fragmented in parts, but when he is onscreen, he produces some great stuff to watch.
Ong Bak 3 starts right where part 2 left off, with Tien (Tony Jaa) being captured by a corrupt king. Tien is eventually saved by a group of friendly villagers, but days of torture have left his body crippled. Saved from committing suicide by a monk, Tien (like in Jaa's own life) goes into the jungle to meditate to clear his mind of violence. But after the village is attacked, Tien must decide if he is going to use his martial arts talents for revenge.
The film begins with a banging fight sequence that should well satisfy fans of Tony Jaa and martial arts films in general. It's in the movie's second act where most of the criticisms have been leveled, and I will agree that the middle is by far Ong Bak 3's weakest portion. With Jaa (who was also directing the movie) gone from the set, the film's replacement director, Panna Rittikrai, had to resort to using body doubles and lookalikes in many scenes, which gives the movie a low-budget Bruceploitation feel.
However, things recover wonderfully at the end, which contains some of the best martial arts work Tony Jaa has done to date. Yes, of course, there's elephants and lots of knee strikes involved. However, more importantly, as a film-maker, Jaa seemed to have been able to move forward in not just portraying great action scenes, but actually having true emotion behind them. While overall Ong Bak 3 isn't as much of a satisfying end to the story as some fans (this one included) were hoping for, it's still a fine modern martial arts picture that delivers its' fair share of thrills.