The debut film of Tony Jaa, showcasing his "no-strings-attached'' (as opposed to Wire Fu
) style of martial arts cinema, and brought muay moran to the attention of global media.
Ting (Tony Jaa) lives in a small and peaceful village. One day, the head of a sacred Buddha statuette called Ong Bak is stolen from the village by a drug dealer working for an immoral businessman who sells it for exorbitant profits. It soon becomes the task of Ting to track the thief to Bangkok
and reclaim the religious treasure. Along the way, Ting 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.
Ong-Bak contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ax-Crazy: Mad Dog.
- Artistic License – Martial Arts: While portrayed more or less realistically, the art of muay thai/muay boran usually does not feature the aerial stunts Ting does in this film, to say the least.
- Badass: Ting, so very very much.
- 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 is a badass villager who's come to the city to reclaim the head of his village's buddha. Many of the people he meets even refer to him as "Country Boy".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: 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 dropped with one 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: Komtuan runs an underground fight club circuit that Ting takes part in three times during the movie.
- 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 starts out as selfish and rather cowardly, but genuinely cares about Ting and Muay, and comes to care about the village enough to sacrifice himself to save Ong Bak's head.
- 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.
- Kick the Dog: Don forcibly O.D.s a girl named Ngek when she tells him she wants to give up coke.
- 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.
- 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.
- Le Parkour: Ting fleeing the bandits amounts largely to some impressive running acrobatics.
- Redemption Equals Death: While this is true for Ngek, 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.
- 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, 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).
- Throwing the Fight: The final ring fight turns out to be a case of this, as Ting has been convinced that only by throwing the fight can he get the head of Ong Bak and save Muay. Unfortunately, Komtuan is a bastard who betrays Humlae and tries to have both of them killed.
- 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.
Ong-Bak 2 & 3 contain examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: Bhuti Sangkha's name is never said on screen. Rajasena only calls him a "crow".
- Badass: Tien makes Ting look like another mook.
- Big Bad: Rajasena.
- Bigger Bad: Bhuti reveals itself as one.
- Bolivian Army Ending: 2 ends in one.
- Crucified Hero Shot: Tien gets one or two.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: We are never said who or what is Bhuti, only being shown that he is some kind of evil supernatural warrior. His very introduction at the end of Ong-Bak 2 plays it even more straight, as he just comes and causes Tien's defeat up before leaving.
- Genre Shift: The sequel/prequel is a historical Martial Arts Epic.
- Honor Before Reason
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: The apparently mental retarded Mhen, who also doubles as Comic Relief.
- Karmic Death: 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.
- Mind Screw: The final battle in 3 can be somewhat confuse.
- Off with His Head!: Rajasena receives this treatments, and for some reason, his severed head keeps talking after being cut.
- One-Man Army: To say the least, Tien is able to curbstomp an entire palace and then an entire village of mercenaries.
- Only a Flesh Wound: Tien is cut and slashed a lot in the closing, and yet is able to still dodge 99% of the attacks from his enemies.
- Redemption Equals Death: Tien's adopted father Chernang, 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.
- The Svengali: Chernang.