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Ong-Bak Trilogy (Blu-ray)

Ong-Bak-TrilogyHere comes the Ong-Bak trilogy in time for the release of The Protector 2.  This is the home franchise for martial arts and Muay Thai expert Tony Jaa.  For those of you wondering right off the bat, no, there is nothing new to this box set that hasn’t been out already.  The only addition is a really nice sleeve to put all 3 films in.  So, no there is no reason to pick this up if you already have it.  The cases, discs and bonus features are all identical aside from the fact that they all now have a trailer for The Protector 2 on them preceding the menu.  If you don’t own the Ong-Bak trilogy though, we have plenty to discuss today!

Ong-Bak 1

Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior 

We have a simple story here.  Goon comes back to his home village, acts like a brat, steals the head off the statue of the god the village worships named “Ong-Bak”.  One of the villagers leaves to go retrieve it and winds up getting involved in something much bigger than that petty theft.  He ends up crossing the local mob boss, having to fight in a couple tournaments and eventually having to flee and fight for his life.

I was first introduced to the stylings of Tony Jaa in the summer of 2006.  A friend of mine’s cousin was staying with me for the summer and he was a martial arts enthusiasts.  Like, actually practicing them and sparring off in tournaments in Vegas and such.  Well, one trip to Amoeba and he got excited over this movie called Ong-Bak starring this guy named Tony Jaa.  He told me he fought in this style called Muay Thai and how unique it was, using primarily your elbows and knees.  We then immediately watched the film and I was “wow’d” by what I was seeing.

The first Ong-Bak is very much in the time honored tradition of classic Jackie Chan films.  There’s all sorts of stunts going on and people taking major tumbles.  Stuff in this movie looks so painful and that it caused probably a lot of aches, pains and injuries.  And I’m LOVING it!  Demented as that may be.  Also, it actually looks like the performers are actually connecting on a lot of their punches and kicks.  I say that because this movie features a lot of slow-motion and instant replay of multiple angle of big hits and stunts.

You kind of have to take Ong-Bak like old school kung fu movies.  Stunts and fight choreography first, production second and story/acting a distant third.  That’s kind of the way these things work for enjoyment.  Ong-Bak has your typical small, thin plot that if you sit and think about is a bit weak and lame.  Its also got real good rawness that helps sell it all.  When you see all this revolutionary ass kicking going on, who really cares?   I mean you get to see a guy on a motorcycle get knee’d in the face and his helmet explodes on contact.  Really, who cares when it keeps delivering that sort of awesome.

Ong-Bak 4

Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning 

This second installment goes way back to ancient times.  It tells the story of Tien, who is a boy taken in by a group of bandits after his village is savaged by some slave traders.  He is trained in a bunch of different fighting styles to become one of the most dangerous men in the world.  He then leads his group of bandits to take revenge on the slave traders who killed his family and destroyed his village, trying to kill him as well.

When you hear there’s gonna be another Ong-Bak, you get excited.  You find its not a sequel, but a prequel.  Okay, that’s cool.  Then you get this?  A movie that clearly has nothing to do with the original in any sort of way.  Yet, it holds the series moniker on it.  Everything about this movie is nothing like what came before.  So, you’re immediately taken aback.  Part of the problem you’ll have on the initial viewing is your brain trying to figure out how the hell this all ties in with the original that took place in modern times.  Don’t, because aside from sharing a title and star these two have nothing going on that would link them otherwise.

It’s got a bigger budget and a cleaner production.  Some of the vicious fights and stunts feel a little more safe and predetermined because of the production slickness.  Removed is that raw quality that made you kind of wonder if that guy really was getting kicked in the face.  They’ve also up’d the blood in this thing tremendously as well.  Where it might not be as shocking with its pounding, it is with its gore factor.

Once again we get a rather simple story, but some really cool fights.  And really, the fights don’t get super good until the final act.  Then it gets pretty brutal and has a nice sequence of one guy versus a ton of ninja like guys.  The fights don’t quite make up for the thin plot like last time, but they do help this thing out to be a bit more watchable.  Its average at best.  The film was also riddled with financial and production issues too.  You really don’t need to see this movie at all, no matter how much you loved the first one, just know that.  You’re not missing out on anything at all because the connectivity is extremely thin.

Ong-Bak 6

Ong-Back 3: The Final Battle 

This third installment picks up on the cliffhanger set by the previous film.  We see Tien capture and tortured.  He then recuperates and trains in his ways to learn all the important things again to finally get his revenge.

This film is a turd and a mess.  There is about 3 really cool fight scenes, but what this movie does is absolutely unforgivable.  They have nothing here.  Its full of a ton of flashbacks to the film we just saw previously.  Its also a bunch of bullshit training and meditating montages.  It also tries to use a bunch of cut footage from the previous film to sell as new material.  They honestly have 15 minutes of a movie here total and try to stretch this to 90 minutes.

Seriously, all we have its torture, recover, fight.  That’s it.  Its obnoxious and boring.  And its incredibly insulting to anybody who sat through the last film expecting some payoff after that cliffhanger.  This is the example of a studio trying to salvage stuff from the last one so they didn’t feel they lost a bunch of money.  I’m not writing much about this one because there’s not much to write about.  And seriously if they’re not going to give an effort why should I?  Because this movie is this offensive and bad, it makes sitting through Ong-Bak 2 an absolute waste of your time.

I really don’t understand the direction these 2nd films took.  This is in no way a follow up on Ong-Bak aside from cashing in on the title.  They’re somewhat a measure of self-indulgence from Tony Jaa as well, and that’s a shame.  These films should have been called something else.  Period piece stuff and the like is cool, but as a follow up to the first movie, I just don’t care.  I want something that at least resembles that first movie because I liked the first movie.  Continue that or repeat it.  Either is better than what we got here.  Ugh.

Ong-Bak 2

Video

Ong-Bak 

Ong-Bak 2 

Ong-Bak 3 

Encoding: Ong-Bak – MPEG-4 AVC, Ong-Bak 2 – VC-1, Ong-Bak 3 – MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: Ong-Bak-1.85:1, Ong-Bak 2-2.35:1, Ong-Bak 3-2.35:1

Clarity/Detail: Ong-Bak looks pretty awful on Blu-ray.  Its soft, blurry and really grainy throughout severely lacking in detail.  Ong-Bak 2&3 fare much better being pretty high in detail and a bit overly vibrant.  Lots of detail, including muddy faces, elephant skin and texture of outfits.

Depth: Ong-Bak looks rather flat.  The other two films boast a much better depth and are above average in the department.

Black Levels: Blacks are faded and grainy in the first film.  The second two have rich blacks that help with definition but do craft a little bit of crushing from time to time.

Color Reproduction: Coloring is pretty much dingy on the first film.  Ong-Bak 2 is a bit oversaturated in yellow.  Ong Bak 3 relishes in a finer palette and looks pretty gorgeous for the most part.

Flesh Tones: The first film features a consistent faded tone.  2 has things on the yellow side.  3 is a much more natural appearance.

Noise/Artifacts:  Lots of grain scratches, crushing and the like on the first film.  The other two are rather faultless.

Ong-Bak 5

Audio

Ong-Bak 

Ong-Bak 2 

Ong-Bak 3 

Audio Format(s): Thai 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH (2&3 only), Spanish

Dynamics:  Ong-Bak has a loud score to it and the effects and vocals are audible but very canned sounding.  Its a front-heavy production.  Ong-Bak 2&3 have much more dynamic to them and balance.  From the clanging of swords to huts being blown to smithereens, you get a much more profound experience with the audio.

Low Frequency Extension: Some good thumps with punches and kicks in the first film.  The second two features elephant stomps, explosions and a very lively subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: The first film should have been a 2.0 track.  There’s little to no effort made to appease the rear speakers.  The latter two films make much better use as you can hear battling going on as well as steps and such going on behind you.

Dialogue Reproduction:  The first film has the dialogue loud enough, but it sounds muffled and canned.  Dialogue is much more clean, crisp and clear for parts 2 & 3.

Ong-Bak 7

Extras 

All the extras have been ported over because, well, these are the same discs.  Some cool onset footage is included, but the interviews and anything “insightful” is mostly all fluff PR friendly stuff.

Ong-Bak

Live Tony Jaa And Stuntmen Performance (SD, 2:34) – Tony Jaa shows his stuff at the French premiere of the film

The Movements Of Muay Thai (SD, 1:43) – Clips that go over the name and moves used in sequences of the film

French Rap Music Video With Tony Jaa (SD, 4:03)

Making Of Music Video (SD, 7:14) – Here we discover the music video was directed by Taken 2 director, Olivier Megaton.

Selected B-Roll (SD, 2:33) – Outtakes from a couple key sequences.

Promo Video Featuring The RZA (SD, 1:00) – RZA interrupts a street fight to show them Ong-Bak.

Trailers (SD, Various) – 6 trailers for the film.

Ong-Bak 2

Alternate Cut (HD, 1:28:27) – A cut of the film that subtracts 10 minutes in hopes to tighten things up.

The Making Of Ong Bak 2 (SD, 21:07) – 3 featurettes that get a little bit into the characters in the film, shooting the action and the martial arts put on display in it.

Behind The Scenes (SD, 17:50) – 3 featurettes displaying on set footage between fights, sets and cast interaction.

Interviews With Cast And Crew (SD, 25:21) – Interviews with Tony Jaa, Prachya Pinkaew, Panna Rittikrai, Sorapong Chatree, Santisuk Phromsiri, Sarunyu Wongkrajang, Niruth Sirijunya and Primrata Det-Udom.

HDNet: A Look At Ong Bak 2 (HD, 2:53) – A promo for the film airing on HDNet.

Trailers

  • International Trailer (SD, 3:50)
  • US Trailer (HD, 1:49)

Ong Bak 3 – Exclusive Footage (SD, 1:34) – A sneak peek at the follow up film.

Also From Magnolia Home Entertainment Blu-ray – Trailers for Red CliffDistrict 13 UltimatumBronson, and Warlords, HDNet.

Ong-Bak 3

Ong Bak 3: The Making Of A Legend (SD, 15:09) – A very friendly fluff piece with interviews of cast and crew.

Behind The Scenes: Uncovering The Action (SD, 5:58) – On set footage of the filming of some of the action sequences.

Interviews With Cast And Crew (SD, 31:47) – Interviews with Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai, Dan Chupong, Phetthai Wongkhamlao, Nirut Sirichanya, and Primrata Det-Udom.

HDNet: A Look At Ong Bak 3 (HD, 3:08) – A promo piece for the film on HDNet.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:25)

Ong-Bak 3

Summary 

This is a nice set that nabs you all 3 films in one cool set.  And I really do like the box.  While simple, Magnolia has made it look pretty rich.  Here’s the thing though, you really only need the first film in the set.  I suppose the 2nd is a nice bonus.  The first film is easily the best but has a poor presentation.  The other 2 have goo presentations but aren’t all too great.  Fans of Tony Jaa should pick this up, but they probably have all 3 of these releases.  If you don’t have the first film, you might as well pick it up this way.  And at $25 where its currently at, they’re actually giving you a really great price for all of this.

Ong-Bak-Trilogy-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

1 Response to “Ong-Bak Trilogy (Blu-ray)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Yeah Tony Jaa went kind of crazy during the making of the sequels and literally went on a spiritual retreat, while editors put the third together. The sequels really sucked though.