Ong Bak 3 Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai

Ong Bak 3 Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai
There are train wrecks and then there's Ong Bak 3. Seldom have I seen a movie more devoid of entertainment value. It's all the more shocking considering how excellent the previous two instalments were. Using obscene amounts of footage from Ong Bak 2 to introduce the story, and again in the incessant flashbacks, it's evident that there must've been issues with production. Maybe everyone involved went crazy or maybe it was a rogue editor hired to assemble something, anything out of a limited amount of footage. Whatever the case, Ong Bak 3 is almost entirely unwatchable; it's choppy and unfocused, rendering the story incomprehensible. There's little or no colour correction between the digital and film footage, while recycled fight scenes are played out in still frame montages and horrible grainy slow motion. From what I could gather from the muddle, the story picks up with the torture of Tien (Tony Jaa). Every bone in his body is broken and he's about to be publicly executed when he's saved by the insurgent villagers he aided in the previous film. He's brought to the village and nursed back to health by his beloved Pim. What precious screen time isn't devoted to crappy flashbacks is wasted with the drawn out inaction of Tien's rehabilitation. Watching Tony Jaa relearn how to do Tai Chi and Kohn (Thai dance) isn't exactly stimulating viewing. Luckily, the village idiot, Mhen (played by Petchtai Wongkamlao), shows up for legitimate comedic relief, as opposed to the derisive laughter inspired by the film's dumbfounding ineptitude, just as I was praying Tien would fling himself down a cliff and end my misery. And misery is what Ong Bak 3 is all about. There's something about a curse that brings misery and its embodied by a gothed-out Ghost Crow dude who throws down with Tien. I don't think bringing misery to the viewers was the intention, but it sure as hell is the result. Granted, there's still a pretty awesome climactic fight scene with Tony Jaa swinging from elephant tusks, but it's so poorly shot and edited that it's hard to follow or appreciate. They even manage to make the real elephants look fake, wasting the effort it took to shoot such elaborate fight choreography with live beasts. I could go on – there's CGI smoke that looks like a gas-huffing intern using software from the '80s did it on a lunch break, the music is overbearing and mixed to loud – but why bother? Don't see this movie. As soon as it was finished, I had to put Ong Bak 2 on to cleanse myself of the stupefying horror I'd just witnessed. Oh, there are special features, but none hint at what went wrong. "B-Roll" footage is the obvious highlight – the raw stunts are wowing before being decimated by the horrible filmmaking. A series of cast and crew interviews are typical self-aggrandizing propaganda, revealing delusion, lies or that none of them had seen the finished product. Tony Jaa calls this his "masterpiece" and speaks of movie making in the past tense. Let's hope this miserable drivel isn't the swan song for one of cinema's most impressive martial arts performers. (eOne)