Starring: Tony Jaa, aka Panom Yeerum
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Alternate Titles: Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
Runtime: 108 min.
North American release: February 11, 2005
Asian release: 2003
In the rural village of Nong Pradu in Thailand, the head of a Buddha statue called the Ong-Bak is stolen. This greatly distresses the villagers, as the statue is said to protect them from drought. The ones responsible for the theft hope they will be placed in the favor of a great crime lord: Khom Tuan. One of the villagers, called Ting (Tony Jaa) is trained in the 'Nine Body Weapons' martial art of Muay Thai. To retrieve the Ong-Bak, Ting must use his fighting prowess to win street fights in Bangkok.
Once there, he meets up with two con artists that go by the names Muay (Pumwaree Yodkamol) and George (Petchtai Wongkamlao). Ting knows George as Hum Lae, who used to live in the same village. Now he is a gambler deeply in dept, and wants to use Ting's abilities to win him money. Ting is reluctant to fight unless he has to, but his enemies often force him by harming innocent people (especially women). Eventually, Hum Lae does help Ting look for the Ong-Bak, but not before being chased through the markets by an argry gang, or winning a few rounds in the fight club.
One of the most intriguing features of this movie is that every stunt and move is done by human skill alone, and maybe a wire or two. There were no special effects inserted (excepting frequent slow motion replays), just pure martial arts. The rawness exists to showcase Tony Jaa's impressive techniques more clearly. An increasing number of people are ranking it near Fist of Legend in terms of greatness. You can really feel the pain of Ting's victims after his knees and elbows are continually driven into their bodies. The martial art Tony Jaa practices (Muay Thai) is a very deadly, power-based style, which will leave you in awe during each fight sequence.