Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003)

ong-bak the thai warrior poster 2003 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Fun and driven action movie

Lots of replay of stunts

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Ong-Bak:  The Thai Warrior

Studio: Baa-Ram-Ewe

Genre(s): Martial Arts/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): January 21, 2003

MPAA Rating: R

ong-bak the thai warrior taxi chase tony jaa

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble

The small Thailand village of Ban Nong Pradu is suffering from drought.  The people of the village hope their god Ong-Bak can restore the village and save their people.  When the head of the statue of Ong-Bak is taken by a thief named Don (Wannakit Sirioput), Ting (Tony Jaa) must give up his peaceful ways to go to Bangkok to retrieve the head.  Teamed with a shifty former villager named Humlae (Petchtai Wongkamlao) and his partner-in-crime Muay Lek (Pumwaree Yodkamol), Ting finds himself pulled into illegal street fighting and the target of kingpin Komtuan (Suchao Pongwilai).

Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, Ong-Bak:  The Thai Warrior (องค์บาก) is a Thailand action-adventure martial arts film.  The movie goes by multiple names (including Ong-Bak:  Muay Thai Warrior) and became an international success.

ong-bak the thai warrior villain komtuan suchao pongwilai

Just get yourself a white cat to stroke and you’re there!

Ong-Bak:  The Thai Warrior is a lot like other martial arts films while being completely different at the same time.  The action has a lot of the movement and fluidity of a Jackie Chan movie, but with a deadly serious nature.  The movie is what you’d want from a straight-up action film.

The story is rather typical.  A pacifist country-bumpkin comes to town and finds himself pulled into corruption, but the movie keeps the action flowing and finds somewhat logical reasons to keep getting Ting in battles.  The only humor in the story comes from Ting’s sidekick Humlae (aka George) and the story actually becomes largely a redemption quest for that character.  Despite taking beating after beating, Ting feels largely invincible which is a slight problem with the action film…he’s the hero and he’s going to survive.  It just is a matter of how he does it.

Tony Jaa is rather electric in the role.  He plays the action straight and hard.  The fighting seems realistic and more dangerous than many action films, and Jaa demonstrates his athleticism through the amazing stunts.  Petchtai Wongkamlao is a good sidekick, but I wish that Pumwaree Yodkamol’s character had more of an arc and purpose.  The Wannaki Sirioput character is rather weak, but I like that Suchao Pongwilai’s crime boss is straight out of a Bond film with the voice box and everything.

ong-bak the thai warrior flaming leg kick tony jaa

The Flaming Leg Kick!

The film honestly probably could be a third shorter if they took out all the replays of Tony Jaa’s stunts.  In an effort to prove that Jaa is performing the stunts, the movie often replays them from different angles.  While it is kind of cool a few times, it sometimes ruins the flow of the fight scenes and prolongs them to a point that they shouldn’t be (in contrast, I do like some of Jaa’s extremely short fights where he knocks out a person in one hit).  The editing is fast and electric, and I can deal with the replays simply due to that.

Ong-Bak is a fun action film that keeps rolling.  It has scenes you don’t expect (like the opening tree climbing scene and the mini-taxi car chase), but it also manages to have everything you’d want in an action thriller.  Check out Ong-Bak:  The Thai Warrior and enjoy the fighting!  Ong-Bak:  The Thai Warrior was followed by a prequel Ong-Bak 2 in 2008 which Tony Jaa helped direct.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response