When Tony Jaa burst onto the screen and introduced to the US audience with 2003s Ong Bak he became an instant icon and changed the way fans saw martial arts action. After the success of the film and Jaas popularity it came as no surprise that there were more entries in the series to come. While it took a few years and there were numerous behind the scenes drama and controversy fans finally got the follow ups in 2008 and 2010, but instead of a direct sequel play more of two separate films with the same star, but none the less bring the action. While they have already been released individually Magnolia is now bringing them all home together in the Ong Bak Trilogy Blu-ray set.
Ong Bak follows a young man selected by his village to travel to Bangkok to bring back the head of Ong-Bak, the sacred Buddha that was the focal point of an anniversary vigil believed to bring rain to the drought-stricken area. He has an affinity with the statue as he was left on the temple steps as a baby and raised by monks, who taught him muay thai, but forbade him to use it in combat, but now he is forced to delve into a seedy underworld and try to avoid temptation. To say this film change the martial arts film industry is an understatement. This film features a pretty simple story, but is flooded with some of the most dynamic and amazing fight sequences. While the industry has continued to step things up, the stunts and fights still stand on their own and elevate this film to an iconic status in the genre. Jaa burts with charisma and charm as well as the ability to bring the pain like no other. This film also help to bring more recognition to the world of Muay Thai bringing it to the forefront and spawned a whole new interest in the art for US audiences. In addition to this awesome action film, this Blu-ray also includes numerous special features including featurettes, live performances from Tony Jaa, rap video, trailers and more.
Ong Bak 2 follows a young nobleman who bears witness to the massacre of his family at the hands of a treacherous and power-crazed warlord. Bent on revenge, he joins a band of guerrilla fighters who school him in a dizzying array of martial arts and weaponry techniques before unleashing him on his unwavering mission to avenge his family's murder. It’s hard to imagine that Jaa could out do himself when it comes to the action of Ong Bak, but with the second entry he does just that. The story is a bit all over the place at times, but let’s be honest no one is really watching these films for the story. Jaa brings his A-game to the table for this one with numerous sequences where he flows in and out of various styles like nothing you have seen to make for a true sight to behold. The title to this was likely due to the popularity of the original film, but has little to do with it other than Jaa being the stars as mentioned above. Jaa took on multiple duties for this film as not only the star, but also the co-director, action director and fight chorographer which is likely why this film is so out there in the action department. This is a furious and brutal entry into the series that set a new tone and showed that Jaa had more tricks up his sleeve. In addition this Blu-ray not only features the film, but also an alternate cut, featurettes, interviews, trailers and more.
Ong Bak 3 picks up at the cliffhanger ending where the previous one leaves off, this time he must face his ultimate enemy: a fierce supernatural warrior named "Demon Crow." Obviously picking up where the last left off it kept the intensity of the previous film intact, but at times makes even less sense in regards to the story. This one took some new directions adding a bit of the supernatural to it that at times makes it feel like it doesn’t really belong in this series. While they did shoot new footage a lot of this film was pieced together with unused footage from Ong Bak 2 which is likely why it is so convoluted for most of it. Once again you can let most of that go thanks to the dynamic action that Jaa brings to the table. This film not only brings much of the same style of action as the previous entry, but steps things up even more pitting him against Thai martial artist Chupong “Dan” Changprung that is pure awesomeness. Much like the other films this Blu-ray not only includes the film but also trailers, featurettes, and interviews.
There is no doubt that Tony Jaa is one of the most dynamic martial artists out there and with numerous films coming soon including The Protector 2 around the corner what better time to revisit the trilogy that started it all. If for some reason you never added these epic additions to the martial arts genre to your collection then now is the perfect time to change that. Be sure to grab your copy of The Ong Bak Trilogy when it hits Blu-ray on July 29th.