Ong-Bak DVD Review (Region 2)

Seth Gecko

retired member
Oct 9, 2004
Reaction score
<P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='' ALT='ONG-BAK DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>ONG-BAK</FONT><br>Reviewed October 2005 by <A HREF='search.php?do=process&query=Cas Harlow&showposts=1&forumchoice[]=107&forumchoice[]=197' target='_top'>Cas Harlow</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P>Much as it pains me to say it now, Steven Seagal is probably the reason why I got into martial arts movies. Seeing his earlier movies (before he put on weight and started on his direct-to-DVD road to hell) made me want to go out and learn how to fight like that. Since that I’ve obviously found all of the other master martial artists like Jet Li and Jackie Chan, who continue to impress me today. Then there’s Bruce Lee, probably the most distinguishable martial artist, who passed on some of his legacy to his similarly short-lived son Brandon. Now we have Tony Jaa, possibly the next great martial arts superstar.</p><P>Ting’s village is protected by a sacred idol, Ong Bak, which keeps the village alive. So when it is stolen, it is up to him to recover it. He travels to the city to look for the idol and gets involved in an underground boxing ring, the boss of which also has a sideline in stealing idols. Ting fights his way to the truth, assisted on his journey of discovery by his reluctant cousin George, and friend May.</p><P>The truth is, however, nobody would watch this film for the story. It is a contrived, well-trodden plot that we have seen so many times before in some form or another. We’ve seen underground fighting tournaments (in everything from Fight Club to Jet Li’s recent Unleashed), theft of priceless artefacts and solo warriors on a mission all before. The reason why this movie is so good is thanks to the martial arts action, pure and simple.</p><P>After a brief opening sequence setting the scene, Tony Jaa’s Ting gets right down to some brutal fisticuffs, taking on about four fighters in the underground fighting tournaments, combating well over a dozen armed members of a street gang in a well-choreographed street chase and then fighting his way to the big boss and his steroid-pumped henchman. Jaa has moves that will make your jaw drop, solid, powerful strikes that can take down a man with a single blow. His elbow strikes are almost painful to watch and he even does a little bone-breaking to get the message across. Each and every manoeuvre is captured by repeat-shot Van Damme-style directing that let us see the takedowns from every conceivable angle.</p><P>His skills are undoubtedly amazing, simply awe-inspiring, but he also has a certain charisma and star appeal that makes him a clear front-runner for the title of the next best thing in martial arts action movies. Few stars have made such a brilliant debut, perhaps not in terms of story depth or quality, but certainly in terms of action. By the end of the movie I do not think that many fans of the original masters, like Bruce Lee, will be disappointed with the mastery that they have just witnessed.</p><P><B>Picture : 7</B></P><P>The movie is presented in a decent 1.85:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer that does its best to lift the production up from its obviously low-budget starting point. The detail is largely good, with only a little softness and some negligible edge enhancement. Some scenes exhibit more grain than others but overall it largely goes unnoticed. The colour scheme is quite restricted (predominantly browns) but still at least reasonably well represented and coming across pretty well in comparison with some other editions. The contrast level is also better here than any other release I have come across, with solid blacks that make for some excellent shadows. Unfortunately, the movie is clearly still lodged in its poorly-lit cheap-looking roots but this is the best that I have ever seen it, with no print defects whatsoever.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='ONG-BAK'></P><P><B>Sound : 8</B></P><P>We get two main audio tracks, both in the original Thai language, but remixed with a new, more lively soundtrack. I had no problems with the original score, which had a more authentic Thai sound to it, but this has its own benefits – namely giving the movie a more big budget feel. The dialogue sounds clear in both tracks, mainly coming from the frontal array, with keen observation of the effects (mainly the thundering blows from Jaa’s elbow but also including gunfire and explosions) allowing for some more diverse surround action. The new score gets the best treatment though, even offering a little bit of bass into the mix. Of the two tracks the DTS effort has a bit more potency, but they are both still excellent. Of course we get English subtitles as well, which are largely comprehensible.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='ONG-BAK'></P><P><B>Extras : 8</B></P><P>On the first disc there is an Audio Commentary with Asian film expert Bey Logan, who does the commentaries for many Hong Kong Legends and Premier Asia titles. Fortunately I was not given the final version of this disc, so I did not have to listen to him because I generally do not like Logan commentaries. He is clearly very well informed in his field but he rattles off his trivia at such a rate that listening becomes more of a chore than a pleasure.</p><P>On the second disc we get eight Deleted Scenes, including an Alternate Ending, all available with English subtitles. They total about eight and a half minutes, running at roughly a minute each in length. There’s more of Ting looking for divine inspiration, more George, more Muay and basically a lot more chat. We get a little more from the villain, more about the state of affairs back in Ting’s village and an alternate ending with a brief bit of fighting and a change in fate for one of the main characters (you can guess if you’ve seen the film).</p><P>‘Ong Bak on Tour’ provides a brief three minutes’ worth of Promotional Tour Footage, with movie clips interspliced with Tony Jaa’s demonstrations, mainly at premieres.</p><P>‘The Art of Muay Thai’ is a twenty-four minute Documentary that goes ‘behind the philosophy and techniques of Muay Thai boxing and features the masters and students of the Chitralada Gym and the world-famous Sor Vorapin Thai boxing Gym, in Bangkok, Thailand.’ It is an interesting and revealing featurette where they discuss the origins of Muay Thai boxing (some two hundred years ago), the evolution of the art and the concepts behind it. There are interviews with various leading authorities (and gym owners), some of whom even go so far as to say that only Thai people can practise Thai boxing – something which I have difficultly believing is true. We get to see plenty of training footage, a clips from the main film itself and even a bit of proper Thai boxing match footage and overall it is quite an interesting featurette.</p><P>‘The Road to Glory’ is an eight-part Making Of Documentary, consisting of sections on Sacred Cloth, The Market Chase, Fight Club, Tuk-Tuk Mayhem, Ringside, Man on Fire, Pole Position and Final Victory. Totalling a whopping seventy-seven minutes in length, it is quite a mammoth task to watch this in one go. Each section has plenty of rehearsal footage, test runs, behind the scenes footage and alternative camera angles of the final cut. We get to see them practice the key sequences, with multiple takes, on-set gags and lots of instructions from the director. There is not too much footage from the main film itself and the featurette is worth watching alone for the sake of seeing yet more Tony Jaa action.</p><P>‘From Dust to Glory’ is a brief three-minute interview, purportedly with Tony Jaa. In actual fact, it is mostly a lot of promotional fluff, with the interviewer even briefly (but still superfluously) telling us what Ong Bak is about. Eventually we get about thirty seconds with the main man himself, where he talks about his influence from being brought up on Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee movies, before hearing from the director and then returning to Jaa for two more ten-second snippets. This would have been good were it not for the fact that it is 70% film footage and 10% interviewer fluff, with the remainder split between the person we want to hear from and the director.</p><P>‘Visible Secret’ provides us with four minutes of rehearsal fight footage, which sees Jaa ‘fight’ out a couple of little fight club sequences with a solid opponent. It is interesting to see this footage, but you will probably find it watch-once material.</p><P>‘The Bodyguard’ is a ten-minute interview with the Olympic Tae Kwon Do champion Don Ferguson, who talks about his training, his history, his academy and his work on movies, including Ong Bak. He discusses the training he gave, the atmosphere on set, the choreography and the brutality of the full-contact scenes. There is not enough rehearsal footage, a little too much final film footage, particularly towards the end, but it is still a nice addition.</p><P>‘Mad Dog’ is a twelve-minute interview with David Ismalone (who plays Jaa’s crazy table-throwing opponent). He is much less dynamic and enthusiastic in comparison to Ferguson, but it is still quite interesting hearing his background both in fight clubs and tournaments and then on into movies. There is no rehearsal footage at all, with again too much final film footage, but at least this time it is generally related to the interview, with Ismalone often citing injuries sustained in the line of duty.</p><P>‘Pearl Harbour’ is a hefty fourteen-minute interview with co-star Erik Markus Sheutz (who is Jaa’s very first opponent, the one who lasts about half a second). He talks about his background in martial arts and his history up until this movie, his experiences on set and, more generally, his experiences of Thailand. This time around we get even more film footage, often unrelated and probably the sole reason why this interview is so much longer. Of the three interviews, this is probably the least interesting, with Sheutz often drifting off at a tangent and taking the roundabout way to get to his points.</p><P>The UK Promotional Trailer runs at two minutes and advertises this new version of Ong Bak with an alternative soundtrack. It has a horribly overlong rant by deep-throat voiceover man which spoils the majority of it, but the fight clips should give you an idea of how good this movie (and Tony Jaa) is.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='ONG-BAK'></P><P><B>Trivia</B><br><P>For user information we use Bitrate 1.4 to scan the disk for the video bitrate, which also calculates the average bitrate. Below is a graph illustrating the bitrate of the disk, including the average bitrate reading. This disk averaged at 6.66 Mbps.</p></P><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='' ALT='ONG-BAK'></P><P><B>Verdict : 8</B></P><P>Tony Jaa is the next best thing in terms of martial arts and this is the movie that proves it. It has seen many releases, a Thai release with lots of extras but no subtitles, an Australian two-disc release with subtitles but lacking some of the extras from the Thai version (most notably the deleted scenes) and now a superior UK release, also in two-disc glory. We get solid video and audio presentation and all of the extras you could hope for (apart from a subtitled director’s commentary) on a disc, for a film that simply every martial arts action movie fan should own.</p><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>ONG-BAK (2003)</B><A HREF='' target='_blank'><IMG SRC='' WIDTH='121' HEIGHT='18' border='0' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' ALT='Comparison feature coming soon'></A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='' target='_blank'>ADVENTURE</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Director</TD><TD><A HREF=' PINKAEW' target='_blank'>PRACHYA PINKAEW</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF=' JAA' target='_blank'>TONY JAA</A>, <A HREF=' WONGKAMLAO' target='_blank'>PETCHTAI WONGKAMLAO</A>, <A HREF=' YODKAMOL' target='_blank'>PUMWAREE YODKAMOL</A>, <A HREF=' PONGWILAI' target='_blank'>SUCHAO PONGWILAI</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>2</B> <FONT>(UK)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Premier Asia. Released Monday 26th September 2005</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>£19.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>2</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>104 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>24</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Thai Dolby Digital 5.1<BR>Thai <IMG SRC='' ALIGN='ABSMIDDLE' border='0' ALT='DTS Soundtrack'> 5.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>English, English for the Hard of Hearing</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Audio Commentary with Asian film expert Bey Logan<BR>Deleted Scenes<BR>Alternative Ending<BR>Interview with star Tony Jaa<BR>‘The Road to Glory’ 8-Part Making Of Documentary<BR>‘The Art of Muay Thai’ Documentary<BR>‘From Dust to Glory’ Interview with Tony Jaa<BR>‘Ong Bak on Tour’ Promotional Tour Footage<BR>‘Visible Secrets’ Fight Rehearsal Footage<BR>‘The Bodyguard’ Interview with Don Ferguson<BR>‘Mad Dog’ Interview with David Ismalone<BR>‘Pearl Harbour’ Interview with co-star Erik Markus Sheutz<BR>UK Trailer</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
nice review,but seeing as im yet to see this i really didnt want to know that the very first opponent only lasts a few seconds.not a great spoiler i know,but i would have preferred to see it first rather than read about it.;)

perhaps im being picky....damn its late and im tired.

no offence mate.
You should see it anyway.. that Knee to the face is a sight to behold.
Tony Jaa is fantastic in this and if he doesn't get any more wore after this film it'd be a crime.
Mind you i have to say the story line is a little weak... but the fight scenes more than make up for it.
i saw this film two days ago and i must say this guy is amazing, although you know the guy only lasts a few seconds just watching tings fighting style and movement is pretty stunning, watch it!
I believe there were no wires or cgi used in this, which is amazing. The part where he runs across like six guys shoulders was amazing.
stop it :D some of us might want to watch this
Layne RIP said:
You should see it anyway.. that Knee to the face is a sight to behold.

Which knee to the face? there were so many.. :) my particular favourite was the flaming knees!!! Reminds me of Fei Long from some of the the Street Fighter series!!! I bought the DVD after some positive word of mouth reviews from colleagues and reading the above review.. well worth a watch!!
avmunster said:
I believe there were no wires or cgi used in this,

Yes, there was!

Only on the Tuk-Tuk chase, though.

When it flies through the air it was on a wire.

None of the fisticuffs used wires though (which makes a change)

If you enjoyed this look out for "Born To Fight".

Naff story and acting but the action makes you go "OUCH!"
Born to fight is great fun but also check out Tony Jaa's latest 'Tom Yung Goong'.

Its even better than Ong Bak for fighting, the violence is unbelievable! Theres one scene where he fights 20+ guys and he breaking at least 2 bones for each guy. He seriously fooks them up! Also another fight scene with a crazy capoeira fighter which is lighting quick, it looks speeded up although I doubt it is!

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