Ong-Bak is the sacred Buddha of a poor village, and right after the head of Ong-Bak was stolen, the population was plunged into misery. The Buddha was the focal point of an anniversary vigil to request for rain to fall on the drought-stricken area. The villagers selected Young Tin (played by Tony Jaa) to travel to Bangkok, rescue the relic and bring it back to the village in time for their ceremony. Young Tin apparently has an affinity with the Buddha statue, back when he was left on the temple steps as a baby and from then on he was raised by monks who taught him Muay Thai. He was forbidden by them to use it in combat. But retrieving the Buddha could force him to confront the thugs of the underworld using Muay Thai.
For the Muay Thai enthusiasts and practitioners, watching this movie means seeing the dazzling martial arts moves of Tony Jaa with his lightning reflexes and breathtaking gymnastic moves which are both entertaining and genuinely impressive. Press releases for the movie claims “no safety nets, no computer graphics, and no strings” in all the stunts performed by the lead star Tony Jaa.
Everything common to a movie of this genre is found in this film – predictable script, effective (not especially artistic) direction, adequate but not fantastically impressive movie-making. But it’s a Tony Jaa film so the audience will be expecting a lot of stunts and fight scenes.
And for this particular film, the art of Muay Thai takes center stage especially in the fight scenes. Young Tin (Tony Jaa) fights in the street. He fights in the ring. He goes underwater and gets his legs on fire. He fights using Muay Thai – with his hands, fists and with a little help from the knives.
The movie showcases Tony Jaa’s spectacular ability as an electrifying performer. The movie is obviously designed to show off what Tony Jaa does best – fight scenes. Those who are familiar with the principles and practice of Muay Thai, would easily recognize the strikes and all the moves that are layers and layers of Muay Thai.
And that is one thing this movie was able to fulfill –epitomizing the art of Muay Thai, in its best form and purpose. Those who are not into Muay Thai may have a change of heart after watching this movie. The gracefulness that Tony Jaa displayed using this martial art is just incredible.