Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (Blu-ray Review)

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (Blu-ray Review)International Martial Artist Tony Jaa is back in the prequel to his breakout performance in Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior.  I not only missed Ong Bak 2 when it was in the theaters, but also the Sneak Peak presentation of it on HDNet.  So needless to say, I was really excited when I was asked to review it.  Simply put, this is an action movie that is given a historical setting of political intrigue.


The story is set in 1421 A.D. and follows a young boy named Tien who is orphaned during a bloody political upheaval.  The boy is captured by slave traders, but we see he has a fighter’s heart and struggles with his captors who decide he would do well in a gladiatorial game vs. a crocodile.  An interested observer to the proceedings decides to step in with the aid of a handful of men, each whom appears to be master of some form of martial art, and throws the boy a knife to even the fight.  The boy is able to kill the croc.

This observer takes him in and reveals that he is, Churnang, the leader of a group of bandits.  He offers to take the boy as his ward due to his fighting spirit.  Through a montage, we see the boy begin his training of different styles of sword fighting: kendo to Arab scimitar and hand-to-hand combat ranging from: grappling, kung fu to Muay Thai.  A physical test of agility is one amazing, non-CGI/non-wire stunt, which has Tony walking on the backs of a stampede of elephants.  This is an unmatched show of Tony’s physical skill.  Finally Tien is given his final test to prove that he has mastered the various martial art styles.  He quickly dispatches his teachers, but we are treated to a flowing stream of fighting styles that impresses and boggles the mind.  I dare not say it, but I see the spirit of Bruce Lee in this performance.  

Tien is named raid leader and it is on his first raid that he runs into his past.  The bandits succeed in overtaking a river barge transport of valuables.  He succeeds, but it is a large golden statue that reminds him of his father.  We learn through a flashback that his parents took him to a dancing school so he could be kept out of harm’s way.  The only thing Tien wants is to be a great fighter like his dad.  The dancing camp is attacked and Tien is able to reach his parents home only to witness their deaths at the hand of Lord Rajasena’s assassin. 

Tien’s adopted father tells him he was going to name him the new leader, but would not do so until Tien had settled the score.  Tien sets out to the Lord’s palace where he is able to get close disguised as a dancer, but fails to avenge himself.  He returns home only to be set upon by masked assassins.  A long series of fights ensue that will entertain, but he is eventually overtaken.  The Lord makes himself known and introduces the assassin that killed Tien’s father.  It is Churnang, his adopted father, the man who took him in and trained him.  Tien is heartbroken, his world torn asunder by this revelation.   Tien’s adopted father goads him on until Tien is angry enough to lift a sword and fight.  Tien’s heart is not in the fight, but in close combat his adopted father asks for forgiveness and allows himself to die under Tien’s sword.  We close with Tien being dragged away to be tortured.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning


Ong Bak 2’s video is framed at 2:35.1 and encoded on VC-1.  Cinemascope films do not bother me but my 91” screen probably helps. The print used for the transfer is flawless.  I looked hard to notice any blemishes, scratches or obvious splicing, but none were to found.  I was relieved to not see any digital noise or obvious edge enhancement, which some studios can’t stop themselves from doing in an attempt to sharpen the image.  The color palette was tinged with a gold hue giving it a tanned look.  I did not find it distracting nor did I feel it negatively affected the visuals.  This did make Tony look a bit tanner than I recall.  I do think the contrast was pumped a bit, not at a Bruckheimer level, but enough to where it was noticeable such as in dark scenes where shadow detail was crushed a bit.  I believe this was an artistic choice and not a result of the transfer. 

The cinematography was excellent with establishing shots of Thailand, simply gorgeous to behold.  I especially liked the sunrise through a couple of mountains overlooking the jungle near the beginning.  The amount of detail on this 1080p disc was amazing.  Close-ups of the actor’s faces were razor sharp, revealing dirt, grime and hair strands.  I would have to say the video is near reference quality.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning


The audio is not bombastic by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that’s a good thing.  This film is set in the past and in the middle of the jungle, so I feel a more naturalistic presentation suits it.  The DTS-HD Master audio is 5.1 in English and Thai.  I am a stickler for listening to movies in their original language.  The majority of readers probably do not feel like me, so I watched half the film in Thai and English.  The audio is clear.  You never struggle to hear the dialog.  I did find the English track to lack some audio information, probably due to them pulling the actors voices for the dub.  The Thai track was much fuller, but a little lean in the mid-tones.  I praise the sound designer for the most realistic rain I’ve ever heard.  It was fully immerse and encompassing from all channels.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Special Features   

The discs include an alternate cut, which is just 10 minutes excised from the theatrical cut, that does not really add or subtract from the theatrical presentation.  The Documentaries are not very informative, but it’s nice that the crew took the time to sit down for interviews.  There is an early look at Ong Bak 3 that will continue where we left off, and I hope it can fill-in what was missing in The Beginning.

Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Final Thoughts 

The production value is much higher than Ong Bak, and it can be seen in every facet of this film.  Tony’s physical skills will not disappoint you, but the plot is unable to properly convey the motivations that drive our characters.  We are left to fill that in ourselves.  I would recommend this to any action fan but not as a purchase. 


Bring home Ong Bak 2 today on Blu-ray!



Ong Bak 2: The Beginning Blu-ray Cover Art




4 Responses to “Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    There’s a great amount of detail to be found within this review! Before reading about this one I honestly had no idea what ONG BAK was? I might give it a try one day! Thanks Nick!


    Who You Gonna Call
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    Hi Nick,

    On behalf of Magnolia Pictures and the movie’s producers, many thanks for plugging “Ong Bak 2” … .. thanks also, on behalf of the distributors and producers, for not posting any pirate copies or non-trailer clips of “Ong Bak 2” and if you / your readers want good quality, non-pirated, previews, then the official trailer for “Ong Bak 2” is available for fans and bloggers to post/ host / share etc at http://www.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/ongbak2 … .. for further details of on-line promotions for this movie and Magnolia releases generally, check-out http://www.magpictures.com and their official YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/MagnoliaPictures .

    Thanks again for your plug.



  3. Gregg

    What exactly are the documentaries in the special features section? More detail here would have been appreciated. It’s best to list all special features in a bullet-point format. Overall, it’s a darn good review that caught my interest and I’m not just blowing smoke. The title looked intriguing on the store shelf, but now that I know what it’s about, I’m sold!

  4. Brian White

    And best of all it’s only $14.99 via the Amazon link above 🙂