Ong Bak 3 (2010)
By: Devon B. on December 7, 2010  | 
Eastern Eye | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | Thai DD 5.1 | 123 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Starring: Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, Primrata Dech-Udom, Saranyu Wonggrajang, Primrata Dechudom
Screenplay: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Country: Thailand
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The Ong Bak sequels have had a troubled production, and more on the details of that can be found in my review for Ong Bak 2. Having been utterly disappointed with 2, I just assumed Ong Bak 3 would be rubbish, but still held faint hope that the all important choreographer/stunt leader/co-director Panna Rittikrai was more involved in this instalment than he was with 2. I don't think he was.

Ong Bak 3 starts immediately after the Peter Pan like ending of Ong Bak 2, with Tony Jaa captured by the enemy army. Keeping with the idea that the Ong Bak movies are grounded in reality, Jaa receives a severe beating, then gets galvanised by the mention of his father and beats up his tormentors despite his undoubtedly massive swelling and multiple broken bones. Jaa's eventually overpowered and then beaten up some more. Hopefully you've got all the action you'll need from Jaa already, because it's over an hour before he does anything else of interest. Instead Jaa gets rescued then spends some time healing. Then some more time healing. Really, instead of Ong Bak 3 this could've been called Tony Jaa Recovers. Jaa becomes enlightened and eventually has to face the bad guy, but it is a looooong wait for that to happen.

I get that this movie is rife with symbolism and supposed to be deep and meaningful and Buddhist. I get that. But if I want to watch a movie about a thoughtful, peaceful religious guy I'll watch Ghandi. Jaa is on screen more than he was in Ong Bak 2, but that hardly matters since in Ong Bak 3 he spends most of the movie doing sweet fuck all beside grow a beard to look like Thai Jesus. Sure he trains and dances, but he's not Yuen Biao and this isn't Knockabout, and the training sequences just aren't entertaining to watch. Jaa's first fight isn't that spectacular and because the next fight is a little skirmish involving minor characters, it's actually the villain, played by Born to Fight's Dan Chupong, who gets the first moment of good action. Things improve substantially in the climax when some fighting finally breaks out, but Jaa still messes these fights up with excessive slow motion. There is some more great elephant fu in Ong Bak 3, but all the fights probably take up less than 10 minutes of the film and Jaa's newly developed style (learned by rolling around in the dark) often just looks silly – a far cry from the brutality of his Muay Thai.

Without the great action in his films, Jaa never would've gotten anywhere, and with the action so sparse Ong Bak 3 has very little to fall back on. Dialogue is pitifully obvious, with some of the most awkward expositional lines you're likely to find. The annoying sidekick is back, still badly wigged and still not funny in the slightest. Lame CG effects and a controversial ending don't help things, either. On top of which, the film is really convoluted, crammed with flashbacks to Ong Bak 2 in an attempt to make sense of the plot and give meaning to the events. This is very much a Toxic Avenger 2 and Toxic Avenger 3 situation, with the difference that I can see how the Toxie sequels might've made one good film between them. I see a few minutes of a good promo reel between Ong Bak 2 and 3 and the rest of the movies aren't worth the film they were recorded on.

Jaa evidently became a monk to escape the trauma of these films. I know how he feels.
Ong Bak 3 is sharp and clean and looks way better than most Thai films. Clarity is still lost in the blacks and it's still a bit dark, but this isn't problematic like it was with the prequel.
There're 5.1 or 2.0 mixes. The 2.0 is okay, but unnecessary. The 5.1 at least occasionally has things zooming by, but still isn't that dynamic. There's not a lot of action, as I said.
Extra Features
There's an interview with Jaa that runs about 11 minutes in which he says the elephant fight is the standout. Must've been a tough call, given it has so much competition with all the scenes of Jaa in recovery. There's also a 14 minute behind the scenes doco made up of raw footage. This isn't really worth watching, which is a shame because the behind the scenes on Jaa's first two films were great. The trailer is also included, and I would recommend watching that instead of the film as it contains most of the good bits and will save you heaps of time. Lastly there're trailers for Ong Bak 2, Merantau, Chocolate, The Grudge: White Ghost/Black Ghost and Kamui.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Ong Bak 3 is a movie where the viewer can skip to the last scene and not have missed anything. There is hardly any action in this movie, which is a dumb thing to do in an action movie. The elephant fu at the end earns the movie a few points since it is impressive stuff, but it's still a shame that Jaa couldn't pull his directorial debut in line and instead it ballooned into two dull features.

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