Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior

Rated R 2005

Chances are you didn't come to a movie that has a bare-chested, bound-fisted Asian warrior on the poster expecting a complicated story (though if you did, blame Zhang Yimou for spoiling you). Ong-Bak's script is nothing but a series of setups for star Tony Jaa to show his stuff. Jaa is a master of Muay Thai, a kickboxing style probably most familiar to Americans as the fighting method favored by arch-villain Sagat in the Street Fighter video games. He's also extremely adept at appearing absolutely weightless with phenomenal aerial maneuvers. The filmmakers proudly boast that there were no wires, computer effects, or stunt doubles used; all this is well and good, of course, but can the guy act? Who knows. And when you see him in action, who cares? Jaa could easily claim the mantle of "human highlight reel" held by Mexican wrestler Rey Mysterio. That would make the movie a highlight reel of a highlight reel, and a rock-solid audition for bigger things to come.

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