Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior (Blu-ray Review)

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior (Blu-ray Review)Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior started off as a cult movie with pirated copies circulating across college campuses.  However, this only helped to build a loyal following for a very low budget martial arts film starring an unknown Thai actor named Tony Jaa.  HE is the reason why this movie is so impressive.  Let’s take a closer look at why this is.


We find ourselves in the village of Nong Pradu where a greasy low-life named Don is seeking to purchase a Buddha emblem.  His offer is refused so he steals the head of Ong Bak (the town’s buddha) and it needs to be recovered before the ceremony.  Ting, (Tony Jaa), has volunteered to go to Bangkok to retrieve it.  Ting is instructed to find Humlae, an ex-villager in Bangkok, who can help him find Don.  Ting finds Humlae who is clearly embarrassed of his “hillbilly” origins.  Humlae is now a low-life who cheats people out of money and manages to keep his loan shark at bay.  

Humlae immediately loses the money in a bare-knuckle fight club.  Ting finds Humlae at the fight club and is immediately thrown into a fight.  With one devastating blow, Ting wins the match. The next day, Ting defends Humlae and his accomplice, Muay, against a loan shark. This leads to a thrilling chase through the streets of Bangkok.  We finally get to see Tony Jaa’s agility: jumping over and under obstacles, through razor wire, in between sheets of glass, somersaults; leaps; and scaling walls.  We are treated to double-takes in alternate angles of some impressive stunts so we can enjoy what would be a pause and rewind moment. 

Humlae agrees to help Ting find Don and so they return to the fight club where Don sells drugs.  Ting is lured into a fight through righteous indignation and this leads to a series of brutal fights that demonstrate how deadly Mauy-Thai can be.  Jaa is electrifying and he holds your attention throughout.

Eventually Ting, with the help of Humlae and Muay, face off with the black market arts dealer who has ravaged other sacred artworks; including Ong Bak’s head.  The plot is bare-thread thin, serving only as a means to connect all the action pieces.  The other actors are there to fill in and provide Tony something to work off of.  Then again the action pieces feature a jaw-dropping debut by an amazing martial artist and well…that’s all that matters. 

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior


Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior is framed at a 1:85 aspect ratio and encoded in AVC-1.  The video is a marked improvement over the DVD, but it’s still limited by the low production value.  The print used is clean of artifacts, blemishes and scratches.  A Special Feature placard confirms that this new transfer has been cleaned, stabilized and color corrected…and it shows.  The video still has an inherent softness, but I attribute it to its low production origin, which is surprising given it was filmed on 35mm.  I recall the DVD transfer and I could have sworn it was a 16mm print that was used.  There is a brown hue over this film, for artistic reasons I presume, since it was color corrected. There is not much detail level on this 1080p film as can be seen in the opening scene in the tree.

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior


We are presented with the original Thai and an English language track.  Both are encoded in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio.  I’m a stickler for the Original language, but I watched the movie with each track.  The Thai track is more natural, but the dynamic range seems a bit thin.  I think the actors re-recorded the audio in post-production because it was a bit too clear.  The audio was mostly front heavy with the surrounds kicking in from time to time with crowd noise, chirping, or some street ambiance.  The English was no worse than the original, except for the lip synch issue as expected in a dubbed movie.  The .1 channel does get engaged when music enters into the plot.

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior

Special Features 

Unfortunately, all Special Features are presented in Standard Definition and mostly ported over from the DVD transfer. There is a music video featuring the RZA, a short presentation of 8 Muay Thai movements, and a live stunt performance of Tony Jaa at a French premiere of the movie.

Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior

Final Thoughts 

This is not a demo disc, but who cares?!  This is a martial arts film through and through.  Tony Jaa’s skill and agility will keep your eyeballs glued to the set and your mind will struggle with disbelief.  If you haven’t seen it, then do so as quickly as possible and spread the word. 


Bring home Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior today on Blu-ray!



Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior Blu-ray Cover Art




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