Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior Prachya Pinkaew

Tony Jaa is putting Thailand on the filmmaking map with his jaw-dropping Muay Thai techniques, and it's this impressive talent that makes Ong-Bak such an exciting watch. The script and execution are no better than a Steven Segal film, but because Jaa can crack open someone's motorcycle helmet with a flying knee you have a classic action flick. The head of Ong-Bak, his village's sacred Buddah, has been stolen and it's up to local hero Ting to set off to Bangkok and retrieve it. While Ting is on this mission he is roped into the world of fight clubs where he takes out a rather intimidating fellow with one swift kick to the dome. It's with this kick that we realise that our quiet saviour is a super hero and we're taken for a ride for the rest of the film, as Jaa continues to stun viewers with actual, non-CGI stunts that have never been seen before. He manages to slide under cars and run on people's heads, and if you didn't see it or believe it the first time, Ong-Bak replays them in slow motion glory as if you were watching Monday Night Football. There's a story in there somewhere about organised crime and retrieving a slab of cement carved into a face, but you really don't pay attention because you're hoping that Ting gets cornered by a dozen henchman instead. The DVD is rather weak, even though it comes packaged in a rather fly steel case that Jaa can probably snap in half. There's a dreadful music video by a French rap duo that does battle with Jaa in a boxing ring, pitting his Muay Thai skills against "their voices." We find out this deep angle through an equally skip-worthy "making of" documentary on the video. Not all is lost though, as the RZA stops by for one minute for a promo in which a crew of street fighters "ooh" and "ahh" over clips of Jaa busting heads. Some footage of taxi carts flying through the streets and Jaa's legs almost being burnt off during the gas station sequence are the only worthwhile features, making you wish this DVD focused more on the film rather than rap videos. (Alliance Atlantis)