The debut film of Tony Jaa, showcasing his "no-strings-attached'' (as opposed to Wire Fu
) style of Martial Arts Cinema, and brought Muay Boran to the attention of Global Media.
Boonting (Tony Jaa) lives in a small and peaceful village. One day a sacred Buddha statuette called Ong Bak is stolen from the village by an immoral businessman who sells it for exorbitant profits. It soon becomes the task of Boonting to track the thief to Bangkok
and reclaim the religious treasure. Along the way, Boonting uses his astonishing athleticism and traditional Muay Thai skills to combat his adversaries.
There is a prequel released, called Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
, which is far removed from the modern setting of the first and is essentially a Training Montage, a Roaring Rampage of Revenge
, and closes with an considerable drawn out Quirky Miniboss Squad
battle, involving Tony Jaa's character, called Tien, squaring off against every single "Ancient" Martial Art, developed in Asia.Ong Bak 3
concludes Tien's story, and ties both movies with the first.
- Ax-Crazy: Mad Dog.
- Badass: Ting, so very very much.
- The prequel with Tien makes Ting seem like another mook.
- Bottled Heroic Resolve:
- Before the final fight, Ting takes an herb given to him by a member of his village to keep fighting.
- The Dragon injected himself with some kind of drug in order to keep fighting the hero during the climactic fight scene, for all the good that did him in the end.
- The Brute: Big Bear
- Casualty in the Ring: Part of the backstory of Ting's master, which is the reason he commands Ting never to use Muay Thai for anything other than self-defense.
- Combat Pragmatist: The professional fighter "Mad Dog" was a particularly dramatic example of this, using absolutely everything that came to hand as a weapon, even ripping out electrical wires to attack his opponent.
- Country Mouse: Ting; they even keep referring to him as "Country Boy".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: In the first film, Ting's first opponent in the underground arena, Pearl Harbor, is set up as a dangerous opponent by soundly defeating an equally-fearsome opponent after a fierce battle, shortly before Ting enters the ring. He then gets floored with a single kick to the chest before he can throw so much as a jab, just as the fight begins.
- Dance Battler: Ting fights a Funny Afro Taekwondo stylist in the arena.
- The Dreaded: Mad Dog. When he came into the ring, the announcer didn't even bother introducing him, he just went "Oh God, Mad Dog!" and ran away.
- Dynamic Entry: The steroid-popping Dragon ambushes Tony Jaa this way when when the hero was about to go after his boss.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Tri-wheeled, golf cart-like taxis (Tuk Tuks), which explode rather dramatically one by one.
- Evil Cripple: The seller of Thailand's national treasures, who is wheelchair-bound and talks through a hole in his throat.
- Fight Clubbing
- Genre Shift: The sequel/prequel is a historical Martial Arts Epic.
- Gilligan Cut: When Humlae acquires a large knife to fight off a gang of bandits, an old woman selling knives passes in front of them. Cut to Humlae fleeing from the bandits, each armed with a knife.
- Honor Before Reason
- How Dare You Die on Me!: Humlae dies and Muay spends her last lines of the movie cursing him for dying.
- Implacable Man: Ting. And how.
- Incendiary Exponent: Ting (played by Muay Thai expert Tony Jaa) kicks a mook in the head with his legs on fire. Jaa did his own stunts.
- He also insisted on doing the take over and over again until he was sure it was right, despite having already suffered burns to his legs from prior takes.
- Infernal Retaliation: During a fight at a gas station, Ting gets his pants soaked in gasoline from the knee down, before dodging behind some barrels, which are promptly blown up by gunfire. After a few seconds, Tony comes leaping out of the inferno and kicks a couple of guys with his flaming legs.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Humlae
- Karmic Death: The demise of the crime boss Komtuan possibly epitomizes the concept of karmic death, as he is crushed under the falling head of a giant Buddha statue, which he was trying to remove and sell. You don't get much more karmic than that.
- In the prequel: Tien slits the throat of his adopted father with his sword, who murdered his actual father by slitting his throat with a sword. He even acknowledges this fact before Tien kills him
- Know When to Fold 'Em: The last mook Ting faces in the first movie during the weapon swapping scene prompt drops his sword and runs when it's his turn.
- Man on Fire: Ting kicks a man in the face while his legs are on fire. He then puts them out in a barrel of water. (Note: Tony Jaa did his own stunts. Damn.)
- Mobstacle Course: Subverted as Tony Jaa, confronted by a crowd, runs across people's heads while the mooks chasing him have to play the trope straight.
- One-Man Army: Ting.
- In Ong Bak 2 we see this demonstrated. Twice.
- Only a Flesh Wound: The finale of sees Ting get shot in the shoulder with a pistol by the Big Bad at near point-blank range, but remains spry enough to vault off a piece of scenery and deliver dual-downward-knees to The Dragon hard enough to break through the piece of scaffolding they're standing on. Mind you, this is Tony Jaa we're talking about.
- Ong Bak 2: Tien is cut and slashed a lot in the closing, and yet is able to still dodge 99% of the attacks from his enemies.
- Le Parkour: Ting fleeing the bandits amounts largely to some impressive running acrobatics.
- Redemption Equals Death
- While this is true for the girl who died because she confessed to wanting to give up coke, Humlae qualifies by returning to his Buddhist traditions to try to stop the smuggling ring.
- Also in the prequel. Tien's adopted father, who killed his real father, allows himself to be killed by Tien both to atone for killing his father and to ensure that the rest of his own family is kept safe.
- Repeat Cut: Used for nearly every impressive stunt in the movie, showing the action from different angles and different speeds. Of course, given the damn impressive nature of the stunts, wouldn't you want to show them off as much as possible?
- Serrated Blade of Pain: One Mook wields a saw as an Improvised Weapon.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the mooks in the climax of the first film, after witnessing Ting lay a beatdown on the others, tosses his sword aside and scampers away.
- Sheet of Glass: Variation. Ting runs through two guys carrying a pair of sheets parallel to each other (and the sidewalk). Ting then smoothly cartwheels between them without breaking stride (or the glass, for that matter).
- Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: Averted. The Big Bad of the first film does just shoot Ting. It's a big surprise because by that point Ting has laid waste to so many of the guy's goons that we've forgotten that a gun would be a very quick solution to this problem. The two seem incredibly mismatched and we expect the fight to be over quickly, which it is; just not in the way we expect.