After viewing the trilogy it became obvious that as production quality increased in the prequels, the storyline and character development took a backseat. Onk-Bak was edited and shot in a way that made it seem more like a high school skate park video then a big budget action movie, it would replay the same action sequence/stunt multiple times then conclude with a slow motion reel. That being said you empathize with Ting (Tony Jaa) they take the time to develop a back-story and personality. The story is that of a naïve farm boy, who must overcome Taiwan’s criminal underground to recover the stolen head of his villages deity so that once again rain will fall on their fields. Simple and basic as that is it works and lets face it the primary reason to watch a Tony Jaa movie is for the action sequences.

In the first of two prequels aesthetic appeal moves to the forefront. Color correction in contrast to the original has far surpassed the handy cam feel. Tony Jaa also takes over as one of the directors his martial arts experience allows the action to flow as if directed by John Woo. The story is of a boy who witnesses his families death and his journey for revenge as he is taken in and trained by bandits. This is all well and good but they don’t develop Tien (Tony Jaa) beyond what seems to be a romantic relationship with a childhood friend. The story line isn’t driven by the underlined love of the couple but by the juxtaposition of dance and martial arts. In fact Tien (Tony Jaa) doesn’t even have a line till about two thirds of the way through the movie. Being ninety minutes long the plot to story ratio wasn’t unbearable though.

The last installment, which at ninety minutes should have just been part of the second movie to make a three-hour prequel, was by itself intolerable.  They brief coverage of the previous film during the open credits was inadequate at best. Tien starts the movie in bondage and beaten nearly to death. He escapes by order of a character that we are never introduced to, then rehabs using dance till his final fight. The budget was larger so the sets and locations were beautiful; the same directors were attached to the film so it looked much like its predecessor. The lack of story combined with the endless rehab montage and lack of action until the final sequence breaks the formula of why we go to see a Tony Jaa film, action sequences.  Combined with the Ong-Bak 2 and a slightly accelerated healing montage the film would have been more then tolerable, but as it stands by itself it leaves the viewer unfulfilled.

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