Ong Bak (2003)
Main Menu Introduction
Alternative Version-French Theatrical Version / Thai Uncut Version
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-Born For The Fight - Muay Thai Documentary
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Tony Jaa - Fight Demonstrations (4)
Trailer-Piracy Ad, Seven Samurai, The Eye, Happy Together
Trailer-Howl's Moving Castle, Madlax Volume 1
|Year Of Production||2003|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Version Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Prachya Pinkaew|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
You can believe all the hype - Ong Bak is everything you've heard and more! Prepare yourself for some of the most fresh, exciting, fun, impressive, and inspiring martial arts, stunts and chase scenes to ever be packed into an action film. Indeed, this movie grabs your adrenal gland and squeezes it for over two hours. Ong Bak, which has already developed a cult following, is presented as a fantastic two-disc edition DVD, including an Uncut version of the film, and plenty of genuine extras which will certainly delight fans.
The plot is wafer-thin, but it effectively sets up the premise for all the rollicking, high kicking action and mayhem that follows. Set in Thailand, a seedy Bangkok drug dealer named Don (Wannakit Sirioput) breaks into a temple and steals the sacred head of a remote village's Buddha (Ong Bak).
The villagers believe that diaster will follow if it is not returned. A young villager, Ting (Tony Jaa), volunteers to undertake the sacred quest, and he travels to Bangkok to bring Ong Bak back to the village. Ting is an affable and easy-going country boy, but since a toddler he's been well trained in Muay Thai Boran (Kick Boxing) by a local monk.
Ting's only contact in Bangkok is the unscrupulous Hum Lae (Petchthai Wongkamlao), a fellow villager who came to the City many years ago. Hum Lae has since changed his name to George, and seems to have succumbed to all of Bangkok's vices. George may be a dishonest small-time con man with a gambling problem, but he has a good heart, as does his young petty-crime apprentice, Muay (Pumwaree Yodkamol).
Ting recruits George and Muay's help in finding Don (for a reward of course), but not all goes to plan. Soon Ting finds himself in a series of dangerous slapstick chase scenes, both on foot and in three-wheeled tuk tuk taxicabs through crowded Bangkok streets. Ting seems to dodge death at every turn with truly incredible moves that would rival, and perhaps even surpass, the great Jackie Chan.
If that's not enough, Ting also finds himself forced to fight in an underground and illegal Fight Club, where he faces a series of deranged and deadly opponents, including a refrigerator-throwing Aussie. While in town, the honest and naive Ting also manages to infuriate Bangkok's Crimelord, Khom Tuan (Suchao Phongwilai), an evil, chain-smoking, wheelchair-bound villain, who needs a throat amplifier to speak. Very quickly that throat amplifier is issuing orders that see countless street thugs ganging up on Ting.
Although some of the slow-motion action replays from various angles can become a little disruptive, with its kinetic energy I'm sure that Ong Bak will be fondly remembered as the launching pad for Tony Jaa. While the former stuntman lacks Chan's charisma and goofy charm, he is undoubtedly a true martial arts star in the making.
The DVD contains both a Theatrical version (100:41), and a Thai Uncut version (104:00) of the film. The Theatrical version has the same graphic violence, including the limbs being snapped in the final fight sequence. But the Uncut version includes the sub-plot of Muay's drug addict, sister. My review, and the times below, relate to the latter.
The quality of the transfer is reasonable overall, but sadly limited by the source material.
The transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.
It appears that cheaper film stock has been used in this production, and there also seems to be some (understandably) very low budget production values. The sharpness is reasonable, but the image can sometimes be a little too soft. The black level is often poor, with blacks appearing murky or dark grey. The shadow detail is reasonably good, which is fortunate, as sadly Director Prachya Pinkaew and his crew fail to properly light many of the scenes.
The colour does suffer occasionally from the lack of lighting (and use of natural lighting), but the skin tones appear accurate.
The image is often a little grainy throughout, and MPEG artefacts do appear in the form of frequent, but not severe, pixelization. For example, consider the slight macro blocking on the background wall at 19:14.
In regard to film-to-video artefacts, while the transfer is free of aliasing, some telecine wobble is evident occasionally.
Film artefacts, such as black or white flecks, hairs, and scratches appear throughout. Some sections of the source material are badly affected, such as the many hairs and scratches appearing at around the 54:15 mark.
Both versions of the film are in Thai, and English subtitles are provided. I am unable to comment as to their accuracy. The subtitles are player generated, and one has the option of watching the film with or without subtitles.
Disc One, with the two features, is a Dual Layer disc with the Thai Uncut version of the film (104:00) on Layer One and the Theatrical version of the film (100:41) on Layer Two. Subsequently, there is no layer change.
There is only one audio option for the features: Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s).
The dialogue is in Thai, and seemed to be reasonably clear. I did not spot any audio sync problems with the Thai sections, but then again, I was reading the subtitles. When some westerners speak English, such as the dodgy Aussie at 43:40, the dialogue appears to be looped.
The musical score is a combination of traditional Thai music, high-energy techno, and some additional scoring for the Western Release by Richard Wells. The music suits the film well, especially the techno music.
I was pleasantly surprised by the film's surround presence and activity. The rear speakers are used effectively throughout to help carry the score and provide ambience. The rears do add nicely to the manic action scenes, such as the crowd cheering at 4:41 and 20:10.
The subwoofer is also utilised to support both the score and some sound effects, but this is not a very LFE-heavy audio track.
|Surround Channel Use|
As a two-disc edition, there is a fine collection of genuine extras divided into three sections: Documentary and Interviews, Behind The Scenes and Fight Demonstrations and Trailers and Bonus Material.
Animated with audio.
Section One: Documentary and Interviews
Featurette-Born For The Fight - Muay Thai Documentary (51:09)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital Stereo audio, this documentary provides a fascinating look at the "art" of Muay Thai (Kick Boxing). The Featurette has an English audio track and features the National Cultural Commission Director explaining the important place Muay Thai holds in Thai society. There is also a lot of professional Muay Thai fight footage included.
Interviews-Cast & Crew
All presented in Thai, with English subtitles, this extra is also in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital Stereo audio.
Section Two: Behind The Scenes and Fight Demonstrations
Featurette-Making Of Ong Bak (48:38)
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital Stereo audio, this documentary is in Thai and includes plenty of behind-the-scenes footage of the filming and plenty of rehearsal footage as well.
Featurette-Behind The Scenes of Ong Bak
A collection of short behind-the-scenes footage
Featurette-Tony Jaa - Fight Demonstrations
Jaa shows off his amazing physical abilities.
Section Three: Trailers and Bonus Material
Music Video (4:03)
I'm Still Ghetto by Tragedie featuring 'Reed the Weed', performed in French, and presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 non-16x9 enhanced with Dolby Digital Stereo audio
A collection of stills, including the film's posters and storyboards.
Ong Bak Trailers
Apart from the first, these are all for other Madman releases
Five hidden extras.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Ong Bak has been released in Australia, coded for all Regions. Ong Bak has also been released as a One Disc Edition in R1, as Ong-Bak - The Thai Warrior.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
I would favour the local release for the two-disc edition, which has a far more comprehensive set of extras.
Okay, so there’s none of the subtly, depth, or cinematic beauty of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or Hero, but this simple low budget Thai action film honours the Hong Kong chopsocky classics of the 1970s, and has very quickly become a cult classic in its own right.
The video quality is slightly disappointing but still very watchable.
The audio quality is surprisingly good.
The extras are genuine and plentiful.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|