Screened as part of NZIFF 2004
We close this year’s Festival with a late burst of high energy and unadulterated escapism. Ong-Bak is the martial arts extravaganza that’s been a major hit throughout Asia, dazzled France and now crouches, poised to tear up the rest of the world, starting here, with our Australasian Première screenings.
“Panom Yeerum [alias Tony Jaa], a stuntman turned actor in his first starring role, assaults the screen – and what seems like the entire adult male population of Thailand – with such unnervingly exuberant Thai martial arts technique that audiences may need bananas to restore potassium after just sitting through the movie. He plays Ting, a young disciple who is sent to Bangkok to locate a head – Ong-Bak – stolen from his village’s Buddha, a crime that will loose calamitous luck if not redressed… Ting battles a crime lord’s impressive numbers with a healthy, awe-inspiring talent for violence and without the use of wire-assisted special effects that even martial acrobats like Jackie Chan and Jet Li demand… Seeing the fit, constantly moving star leap, slap and punch his way through the film induced something moviegoers don’t often experience: fear for the safety of the protagonist. And the film received the kind of final approval stage shows crammed with showstopping numbers usually garner: the crowd [at the Toronto Festival] was too intoxicated by its star’s efforts to want to leave the theater.” — Elvis Mitchell, NY Times
“In a genre, even in Asia, that’s become overwhelmed by digital f/x, there’s a real joy in seeing the back-to-basics action that Ong-Bak promotes.” — Derek Elley, Variety