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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
2.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
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Ong Bak Trilogy

Street Date:
July 29th, 2014
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
August 19th, 2014
Movie Release Year:
2014
Studio:
Magnolia
Release Country
United States

Editor's Notes

Portions of this review are taken from Tom Landy's review of 'Ong Bak' and Aaron Peck's review of 'Ong Bak 2: The Beginning'

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

The folks at Magnet Releasing/Magnolia Pictures have collected Tony Jaa's three 'Ong Bak' films and re-released the Blu-rays together in one set titled the 'Ong Bak Trilogy.' Jaa demonstrates great athleticism and martial arts skills in these films, but when the focus turns to story and acting, they become boring.

'Ong-Bak' tells the story of Ting (Jaa), a young villager who heads to the big city in order to retrieve the stolen head from a sacred Buddha statue. Things grow complicated when his search leads him to cross paths with the local crime boss, who loses a great sum of money betting against Ting's fighting skills. Tom called a the film "a balls-to-the-wall thrill ride where the "plot" merely serves as a guide rail for some of the most insane action sequences ever assembled on screen."

In an outlandish bait-and-switch, 'Ong Bak 2:The Beginning' is set in the 15th century, but calling it a "prequel," is dishonest as it has nothing to do with the story of the previous film other than the country its set. Jaa plays Tien, a young man who is destined to be the great warrior, which is a good thing to be when required to seek vengeance on the slave traders who captured him and those responsibile for killing his father. Aaron stated "the unoriginality of the screenplay holds it back from being a real winner" yet credits the film for its "balls-to-the-wall action."

'Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle' picks up the story right after 'Ong Bak 2' with Tien a prisoner of Lord Rajasena. Although Tien puts up a valiant effort, in an impressive action sequence, he fails to escape, resulting in many of his bones being broken.  Before Rajasena can completely have Tien wiped out, there's a terrible bit of screenwriting where a messenger shows up with a pardon from the king. Tien's body is returned to his village, so it can be rejuvenated. Unfortunately for the viewer, his spirit needs to be rejuvenated as well with the teachings of Buddha making for long sequences with very little of interest happening.

The screenplay falls flat in a number of other areas. Tien is not allowed any redemption against Lord Rajasena as the new villian is Bhuti Sangkha, whose entry into the story isn't clear, even with his magic powers. Tien is shown a more peaceful way of life. Of course, that has to be thrown out the window because he has no choice but to fight/kill the bad guys, which completely undercuts the message.  There is an extended action sequence in the final act that isn't what it appears to be, and all that is accomplished is the filmmakers have tricked the audience for no apparent reason. The film's biggest positive is good interaction between Jaa and elephants during a fight scene, but everything else is forgettable, making for a great disappointment in the trilogy

'Ong Bak' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 2' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 3' 1 star

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Ong Bak' is on a BD-25 Blu-ray disc while 'Ong Bak 2 & 3' are on BD-50 Blu-ray discs. They are each housed inside standard blue keepcases. which are collected in a new slipcase. The Blu-rays are reported to be region-locked and therefore will only be playable in Region A compatible machines. 'Ong Bak 3' plays trailers for 'Monsters', 'All Good Things', 'Night Catches Us', 'Vanishing on 7th Street', 'Rubber', and an HDNet promo before offering the menu.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Ong Bak' 2 stars

'Ong Bak 2' 2.5 stars

'Ong Bak 3' 3 stars

The video for 'Ong Bak 3' has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC that is displayed at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The image is clean but has been digitally manipulated quite a bit with the application of filters and the desaturation of colors to achieve different looks that there's little consistency in its appearance.

For example, during opening fight scene, the objects are in sharp focus, but when the speed is slowed down, clarity and depth are lost. The same thing happens in a dream where the color is stripped and image is in muddy grays. Blacks on occasion are inky, but tend to crush.

When natural light is recorded in the exterior shots of Tien's village, bright hues of orange and violet can be seen in the flowers and costumes exhibit fine detail. In the scene when Tien contemplates suicide, the effects have created a dim image. There's also a bit of banding in the brief scene where Tien is meditating in front of a digital sun.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'Ong Bak' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 2' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 3' 3 stars

The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Thai and English. On the Thai track, the dialogue sounded clean and wasn't overpowered by the music or effects. The track has satisfying dynamic range between its extremes.

The surrounds offer light ambiance and music. The fight effects are predominantly in the front center channel. There is some imaging, as heard when a horse moves from left to center channel but unfortunately the effect didn’t sound believable. The bass supports the fighting well, giving heft to the violence, but it would distort on occasion.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

'Ong Bak' 1.5 stars

'Ong Bak 2' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 3'  1.5 stars

  • Ong Bak 3: The Making of a Legend (SD, 15 min) – Jaa does most of the talking in these interviews about the movie.
  • Behind the Scenes: Uncovering the Action (SD, 6 min) – B-roll footage on the set.
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew (SD, 32 min) – Available with a Play-All option are interviews with Jaa, co-director Panna Rittikrai, and actors Dan Chupong, Phetthai Wongkhamlao, Nirut Sirichanya, and Primrata Det-Udom. Some of the material is repeated from Ong Bak 3: The Making of a Legend.
  • HDNet: A Look at 'Ong Bak 3' (1080i, 3 min) – Someone named Gary Metzger is trying to sell you on the movie.
  • Trailer (HD, 1 min)

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no HD exclusives.

Final Thoughts

'Ong Bak' 2.5 stars

'Ong Bak 2' 3 stars

'Ong Bak 3' 2 stars

Buyer beware. I can't recommend the entire 'Ong Bak' trilogy on Blu-ray.  I do think the impressive action in 'Ong Bak' will be satisfying enough for martial-arts movie fans to compensate for the deficiencies in both story and HD quality, but can't say the same for the other two entries, which are two parts of one badly executed story.. 

Technical Specs

  • BD-25 Blu-ray Disc
  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc
  • Region A

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.85:1
  • 2.35:1

Audio Formats

  • Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English, English SDH, Spanish

Supplements

  • Life Tony Jaa And Stuntman Performance Before French Audition
  • The Movements Of Muay Thai
  • French Rap Music Video With Tony Jaa
  • B-Roll (Taxi Stunts, Legs Ablaze Fight Sequence, Arena Fight Sequence)
  • HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 2
  • Behind-the-scenes featurettes
  • Making-of featurettes
  • Interviews with cast and crew, including co-director/actor Tony Jaa
  • Never-before-seen footage from 'Ong Bak 3'
  • Ong Bak 3: The Making of a Legend
  • Behind the Scenes: Uncovering the Action
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew
  • Behind the Scenes Footage
  • HDNet: A Look at Ong Bak 3
  • Ong Bak 3 Theatrical Trailer

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