Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Instead of more modern adventures of the Thai asskicker, ONG BAK 2 opts instead for an elaborate period setting and a complex story about warring feudal states and heavy handed Asian mysticism. Rumors abound that Tony Jaa went crazy during filming of the prequel, which also marked his directorial debut, abandoning the production for two months only to return with a new story and a new co-director to finish it. Even if thatís not true, the film sure does feel like itóa jumbled mess that makes little sense.
The main problem here is that ONG BAK 2 tries too hard to be epic. The story is confusing and unnecessarily complicated, full of flashbacks, jumping timelines and overlapping characters. Itís not that itís necessarily hard to follow; itís just boring and takes away from time that could be better spent on actual martial arts sequences. The prequel does look great and is a more polished film than any of Jaaís previous work, but again a lot of that is utilized not for fights but instead for stuff like spiritual folklore, supernatural prophecies and more than one dance sequence. (Yes, dancing.)
While the story may be tedious, there is still a fair amount of martial arts in the film and of course itís really impressive. Nobody is going to argue that Jaa isnít one of the best fighters working in cinema today and ONG BAK 2 is all about showing off the manís skills. Part of the plot involves Jaaís character unifying not only different parts of the country but also their styles of martial arts as well. This is a great excuse for the man to really go nuts with the choreography, often fighting in different styles constantly and using different weapons. The last 20 minutes where things really get cooking is a sight to behold and worth putting up with the flickís lamer aspects for martial arts fans. Itís a great mix of Jaaís abilities as a Jackie Chan-style superstar stuntman (jumping from elephant to elephant in the middle of a stampede, fighting an alligator) and a much more violent and aggressive tone than his previous work. Unfortunately it ends with a cliffhanger that doesnít answer anything and highlights everything thatís wrong with ONG BAK 2 as a film. But, boy, does the fighting still make you look forward to ONG BAK 3.
Making of ONG BAK 2: Three featurettes that add up to about 20 minutes and go over the standard elements, including the characters, the story behind the story and the fight scenes. Each is fairly short and kind of gloss over the material, so donít expect too much depth.
Behind The Scenes: Another trio of features, this time raw B-roll footage from three different sequences. A good look at how big the production was and how much work it was, but they couldíve picked more interesting scenes to focus on.
Interviews with Cast and Crew: Thereís close to half an hour of material here, mostly with Tony Jaa, with a lot of it being repeated from the other material. Although they donít directly discuss the manís mental breakdown, the depths in which they discuss the story and the action clearly shows the passion that may have made for a stressful filming experience.
HDNet: A Look at ONG BAK 2: Short and worthless PR fluff. Trailers and Previews, including a quick look at ONG BAK 3 that looks almost exactly like ONG BAK 2.
Extra Tidbit: [SPOILERS] Since his character ends the film being taken away by to be brutally tortured, apparently ONG BAK 3 will see Jaaís character fight using a new ďbonelessĒ style of martial artsóto fight as someone whoís bones are all broken. At least thatís what I read on the Internet.