• Ong Bak 3: The Final Battle

    Released By: Magnolia Pictures
    Released On: 02/08/2011
    Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
    Cast: Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Dan Chupong

    The Film:

    Not being very familiar with the Ong Bak series of films, the only thing that I really knew going into ONG BAK 3 was that the fight scenes should be intense and well-choreographed, and that if it was anything like the first two installments, it would be a good time in front of the television. Unfortunately, neither of those statements came true.

    Continuing the story of Ong Bak 2, in which Tien (Tony Jaa) seeks vengeance for the murder of his father, Ong Bak 3 starts in the court of the Emperor, where Tien has been ordered to suffer 13 punishments, “until he can no longer breathe.”. These 13 punishments, however, remain a mystery. Instead, we see Tien beaten with sticks, after which he is pulverized by a number of logs, rocks, and other implements of torture. As he is about to receive a fierce beheading, he is saved by a royal decree ordering that he be released and returned to his village.

    Tien is brought back to the village and wrapped in bamboo, after which he undergoes spiritual and physical rehabilitation to restore his soul, which is in torment from deeds done in a past life. With the help of a spiritual shaman and childhood friend Pim, Tien slowly recovers so that he can defeat the Emperor and the Demon Crow, the shadowy tattooed embodiment of evil from Ong Bak 2. And this is where Ong Bak 3 not only spirals, but plummets into suckdom like a 4000-pound stone elephant. Reading curiously like it was written around a series of “That will look sooo cool!” shots, the film stacks montage after montage after montage on top of each other and then saturates the whole mountain of useless sequences with so many flashbacks, that you’ll wonder what in the hell is supposed to be happening. Slow motion and digital effects are used to the point of overkill and beyond. In a 98-minute film, actual fight scenes take up about 15 minutes, and we’re not even rewarded with some real Tony Jaa stylings until the end of the film. Everything else seems so pedestrian, I was left wondering if this could be the same martial arts star I’d heard so much about.

    And let’s not forget the score. For every montage sequence of Tien’s recuperation, we’re treated to a triumphant and climactic orchestral passage, the kind that usually only make an appearance once in a film to signal some kind of overcoming of an obstacle. In Ong Bak 3, these passages show up almost every time Tien moves.

    As for the pros of the film, there are a few. The final battle is well-choreographed, despite a glaring error in continuity that renders it completely ridiculous and laughable. If the movie contained a few more fights with that passion, minus continuity errors, it might have been at least passable as an action film. The performance by Dan Chupong as the Demon Crow is also very good. The scenery is beautiful throughout most of the film, yes, even in the montage shots….and that’s about it. Jaa said that he wanted the third film in the series to be more philosophical than physical, and he certainly succeeded here; the spiritual aspects of Ong Bak 3 are so heavy handed and in-your-face that they cannot be missed.

    Anyone looking for an action-packed martial arts film will not find it in Ong Bak 3. Anyone searching for an inspiring philosophical journey will leave unfulfilled. Fans of the first two films would more than likely be better off by avoiding this film altogether.


    Ong Bak 3 is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic and looks fantastic when the picture isn’t being altered by any digital effects, of which there are many. Close ups reveal plenty of detail, and scenes shot in near darkness remain clear and free of noise. The 5.1 DTS-HD track sounds fantastic in Thai and English, though the dubbing on the English track is fairly laughable. Subtitles are clear and easy to read.

    Magnolia’s blu ray of Ong Bak 3 has a few extra features that are worth visiting as well. First up is The Making Of A Legend, a 15-minute piece featuring Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, and others involved in the film. Primarily, Jaa talks about the evolution of Tien’s character through the three films in the franchise and why he thinks that it’s more important to present the philosophy and a traditional Thai dance in the third installment.

    Next up is Behind The Scenes: Uncovering the Action, which consists of 6 minutes of various action sequences shot on set.

    Interviews With The Cast and Crew is just that, approximately 30 minutes of interviews with Tony Jaa and others. There is a good chunk of overlap with the Making Of A Legend supplement, although there are some other interviews as well.

    Behind The Scenes Footage is a little different than the action featurette, but consists of 15 minutes of footage shot on set.

    HDNet: A Look At Ong Bak 3 is a short promotional piece that runs about 3 minutes, and features World Karate Champion Guy Mezger discussing martial arts in film.

    A Trailer for Ong Bak 3 and a Trailer Reel from Magnolia round out the supplements.

    The Final Word:

    A solid release with some good supplements for a sub-par film, Magnolia’s blu ray release of Ong Bak 3 is worth picking up if you’re a fan of the film.
    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Mike T's Avatar
      Mike T -
      Hmmm, I was thinking about getting parts 2 & 3 on Blu. Now I think I'll just worry about the DVDs when someone has a sale on. Sounds like the stories were true (Jaa going off the rails from the stress of directing two films back-to-back, Jaa disappearing during shooting, Jaa being given the talking to by the production company, his action director Rittikrai being called in to finish the films etc). Kind of all makes sense now why he's bailed on movies and joined the priesthood...
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Yeah, he's a strange cat. He comes across as very likable in the special features, and I've heard great things about the first film, but this was just such a mess....I made an allusion to a glaring continuity error in the final fight scene, I still can't get over how that just got left in there.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      First was good, 2nd film was such a horrid mess it's almost unwatchable so I was hoping for more this time around...
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Keep hoping....it ain't happenin'.