The plot of Ong-Bak is about as simple as you can get, even for a martial arts film. The welfare of a remote Thai village is protected by the Ong-Bak, an ancient statue of Buddha. One night, a group of thugs come into the temple and take off the statue’s head, and as a result, a curse descends on the village, Temple Of Doom style. Ting, an orphan who was raised in the temple, vows to find the head and return with it. And so, with just the clothes on his back and a handful of cash, this bumpkin sets off for the big city.
Thankfully, however, Ting also happens to be a master of the brutal art of Muay Thai kickboxing. Which, naturally, is going to come in very handy over the next 90 minutes or so for kicking epic proportions of ass.
When Ting arrives in the city, he hooks up with the estranged son of the village chief, a two-bit hustler whose name just so happens to be (I kid you not) Dirty Balls, and whose schemes (and name) provide much of the film’s comic relief. Dirty Balls’ partner in crime, a scrappy young girl with one of the shrillest voices in the world, also tags along, having taken a shine to the strong, silent villager.
Over the course of the movie, the trio mixes it up with drug dealers, archaeological thieves, gangsters, illegal boxing matches, and all other manner of underhanded types. Like I said, the movie’s plot is about as simple and predictable as it gets, serving only to provide a little breathing space between the fight scenes. Of course, the fight scenes are the real reason why anyone watches martial arts movies (and anyone who tells you otherwise, myself included, is lying through their teeth), but that’s triply so with Ong-Bak.
At this point, I want you to pause and ask yourself how much cinematic ass-kicking you can handle. Now be honest. If your only experience comes from Jean Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies, or worse yet, Don “The Dragon” Wilson movies, you’re simply not ready for this one. Trust me.Those movies have the appearance of action, but it’s all fancy editing and camera tricks. Go rent a few Bruce Lee movies and then come back when you’re ready. If you’ve made it through early Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies, like Drunken Master 2 and Fist Of Legend, you’re getting closer. But even then, you’ll need to think long and hard before going into Ong-Bak.