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Ting (Tony Jaa) is the best fighter of his little village, so it's only
natural that, when the head of the local Buddha statue (called Ong-Bak) is
stolen, he is sent to Bangkok to retrieve it
In Bangkok he meets up with
Dirty Balls (Petchtai Wongkamlao), who formerly lived in the little village as
well, but has since become a loveable but crooked gambler who doesn't want to
have anything to do with his erstwhile village. However, when he gets a glimpse
of Ting's money, he decides to let the country bumbkin stay in his appartment,
but in an unattended moment he takes possession of Ting's money to use it for
betting in a Thai-boxing match ... & losing everything. However, Ting has
followed Dirty Balls & demands his money back ... instead he finds himself
in the ring wth the reigning Thai boxing chamion, whom he puts out cold with
one blow. Everyone is impressed, including the Don (Wannakit Sirioput)
responsible for having stolen the Ong-Bak Buddha head, & Dirty Balls
changes his opinion about the naive country boy, seeing in him a great asset.
Ting is not defeating all of the Don's fighters inside the ring with great
regularity, he also, after an exciting rickshaw-chase, finds the hiding place
of the Don's stolen Buddhas (he seems to have made a business of stealing
Buddhas), which curiously enough is under water. & after the police has
retrieved all the Buddhas (except for the Ong-Bak Buddha head), the Don is
really miffed & has Dirty Balls & his girl kidnapped, to force Ting to
face the ultimate challenge in the ring, Dopn's own souped up, drugged Thai
fighter ... & here, Ting loses miserably.
For some reason though, Ting
still believes Don will give him the Ong-Bak head only because he has promised,
6 walks straight into a trap set to murder Ting, Dirty Balls & Dirty Balls'
girl. Only Ting's superior fighting skills get the threesome out of this tight
spot, & then it's off to a cave in the mountains, where Don is supervising
the beheading of yet another, giant Buddha statue. & this place is well
guarded, but for Ting & Dirty Balls (who has now become Ting's loyal ally)
it's an easy thing to beat them up by the dozen, & even when Don sends in
his souped up superfighter who has humiliated Ting in the ring, is for some
reason no match for Ting anymore. & in the end, Don is smashed - quite
fittingly - by the head of the giant Buddha he so longed to have.
has finally repossessed the Ong-Bak head, but this also means that Dirty Balls
had to die the hero's death (quite expectedly) ... nobody of course poses the
question (let alone answers it) if it was worth his death.
fight choreography & the occasional inspired action scene (especially the
extended rikshaw-chase) cannot hide the fact that the scriptis very pedestrian,
not only for cheesily pitting the resourceful rural innocence against the
corrupted sinful urbanites, but also its insistence to do so in the fighting
ring, as if this was the only place for a man to prove himself (in that
respect, Ong-Bak is very reminiscent of any number of abysmal Jean-Claude Van
Damme movies), while the righteousness of the main character borders the
ridiculous, & the overemphasis on Buddha-heads seems almost bizarre (&
I don't think this is just my ignorance of Eastern culture).
Still, a fast
pace & competently handled action do prevent the film from being a total