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Ong Bak 3 (DVD)

Can it redeem the Tony Jaa martial arts franchise?

Disc Specs

Starring Tony JaaSaranyu WonggrajangPrimrata Dechudom Disc Cover
Directed By Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai Certificate 18
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
Visuals 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Running Time 95 mins
UK Release Date October 11, 2010
Genre Asian, Martial Arts
Our Rating
User Rating

Ever since the first movie sequel (1916’s Fall of a Nation, in case you were wondering) was made, film fans have endlessly debated whether or not sequels can be better flicks than their predecessor. While the past 94 years have seen some follow-ups trumping their originals, it’s generally safe to say that that’s a rare occurrence. As such, you could say that when we go to see a sequel, we’re not judging it in terms of its own merit; rather we evaluate it on how close it gets to the standard set by the first one.

It’s possibly why we all sit up and take notice when a follow up is the better film. In most cases though, they tend to be either not-quite-as-good or utter shit. Sometimes though, things go very bloody wrong indeed. In these cases a sequel (or multiple sequels) can be so utterly dire that they go so far as to taint the memory of the original. It happened with The Matrix, it even happened with Starship Troopers and sadly it has happened with the Ong Bak series.

While the original Ong Bak was a contemporary piece of martial arts mayhem that saw Tony Jaa labelled as the next Bruce Lee, the sequel (or prequel rather) to the Muay Thai smash took things back to 15th century Thailand where Jaa’s (still impressive) moves were now interlaced with CGI, as well as fantasy and supernatural elements. The result was a follow-up that completely jarred with the realism of its original. Making things worse, it also seemed to have no connection to Ong Bak aside from its name.

As such, it appeared to be little more than a shameless cash-in. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved with the third outing. Rather than brush the second film under the rug and bring us a sequel more in style with the first one, Ong Bak 3 picks up where the second one left off and further shits all over the original’s good name. Sure, Jaa’s moves still impress and all, but the action scenes are somewhat sparse and the naff, and an overcomplicated supernatural storyline bogs things down to the point that the pace slows to a crawl.

While things do eventually come full circle, with the plot eventually tying into the original, it’s a minor positive that can’t quite justify the damage that Ong Bak’s two prequels have had on the original. That said, the fight scenes are still as much fun as ever and worth a peek if you’re completely bored (particularly where Jaa uses a style that looks like he’s fighting with broken limbs), it’s just that they only lightly pepper a flick that can only be described as a convoluted, nonsensical fantasy romp.  

Overall Verdict: A silly, fantastical instalment that further sullies the memory of the original Ong Bak. Still, at least it’s the last one and it looks pretty. 

Reviewer: Jordan Brown

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