Telling the story of Tien, played by Tony Jaa, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning offered up some entertaining qualities. Regretfully, an indecisive conclusion far outweighed the high points that had been conjured up, leaving me no other choice but award it an unimpressive D- rating.
The story revolves around a boy, showing how he is raised and trained by a group of bandits in various martial arts maneuvers. He is prophesized to take over the empire Pha Beek Krut, after its leader, Cher Nung, saves him from the film's first fight. A crocodile and slave trader prove to be the least of Tien's problems as the journey that lays ahead ends up challenging him in ways he never dreamed possible.
Set in Ancient Thailand, the movie is good at one thing: confusing you. Unable to get everything in order, especially the ending, the feature loses itself early on, becoming a rambling montage of scenes by the end. Flashbacks are often used to show the origins of Tien -even taking a moment to insert a love story of sorts that is barely touched upon while Tien is away learning dance.
If you are interested in seeing what Tony Jaa can do, then by all means, this film is for you. He is amazing to watch, especially near the beginning when he runs over a stampede of elephants. But that isn't to say that his acting is anything near great "“ unless you consider fighting and screaming adequate substitutes for acting; in which case, I have just witnessed an Oscar-worthy performance.
But that isn't something to use against Jaa personally as none of the actors in the film took the time to give a noteworthy portrayal of their respective character. There are few moments of mentionable acting, especially by Jaa's co-stars, who each take the film in stride, never really understanding their character's role in the big picture.
As the film continues, you begin to see how Tien's past is connected to his present but, you don't realize this connection until the end. I won't spoil what happens as a result, for that would be against good character for this review. But I will say that what evolves will leave you in a complete state of confusion, forcing you to ask yourself, "˜That's it?' There is no tie-up, leaving no full understanding of the events that just occurred. I am not sure whether to blame the writing, which offers nothing more than your standard revenge plot (though true revenge never developed completely), but their failure to tie up all the loose ends leaves you unsatisfied with your time spent with this story.
I was a fan of Jaa's first Ong Bak. I thought it was a fun film with some awesome fight scenes, backed up by a decent story. Some research informed me that they are currently working on Ong Bak 3 to complete the story, and I sit here now bewildered by this sudden development. Watching the film I never would have imagined that there was more to tell, and I pity those unfortunate enough to find themselves sitting in a theater watching another chapter of this so-called saga.
Unless you have two hours to waste and you want to see Tony Jaa do some cool stunts, or you simply have the sequel and want to see how it all began, then Ong Bak 2: The Beginning is not for you. This movie as a standalone feature was just plain bad.