The follow on to The Protector (there given a glowing review by Boman), once again somebody has had a large enough break from sanity to steal an elephant from Tony Jaa. But instead of a woman and an old man (who were totally evil and deserved it), the bad guy this time is RZA (thereby negating one of Boman's "double bonus" points he gave the first film) and his crew of bloodthirsty pit fighters straight out of Bloodsport. Violence and acupuncture wielding pixie-girls ensue.
Another Tanked Matinee classic. In his breakout role, Tony Jaa plays Ting, a muay Thai monk in a small village with a patron god named Ong Bak, which is represented by a golden statue in a temple. A con man steals its head to sell on the black market, and Ting goes to get it back, punching everybody in the process. With brutal martial arts, really impressive free-running, and lots of eye-popping stunts, there is a lot in this movie to make it an easy recommendation. It was the movie that made the world forget about Enter the Dragon's style of chop sockey (as much as we love that movie).
The Life of the Party
Forget strings, forget the paddle ball slapping WOOCHAW sound effects, and forget weaksauce character development. THIS is a martial arts movie that stands proudly with appeal outside its genre. There is tons of explosive action, plot development, and actual nuance. This is a great example of a filmmaking team making great decisions with their money. Example: they could have done a lackluster car chase like some Jackie Chan movies tend to do, or they could make what could be argued to be the best rickshaw chase of all time. I will leave you to determine which course they picked. The parkour and choreography is acrobatic (this, it definitely has in common with Jackie Chan). It's so well done, that they actually do replays in the film for the same trick. It is silly, but demonstrates that Jaa is actually performing as opposed to it being a trick of the camera. I really don't want to ruin the jaw-dropping aspect to some of the stunts, because a lot of them are shockingly jarring. Suffice it to say, if you saw Jaa's follow up The Protector, you know what you're in for. Cinematic, interesting, varied, talented, and lightning fast martial arts and a lot of people getting kicked through doors.
Problems one through thirty; the fucking lead girl's voice. It is like Gilbert Gottfried the Thai woman. I like her character development and she is an important character to the story, but she sounds like Ellen Degeneres with a goddamned cold. Other than that, the plot may seem kindof stretched, but it is still well put together, thoughtful, meaningful, and engrossing. In a lot of martial arts movies, the acting sucks. Not so much in this one. That is fairly uncommon. This film doesn't have a ton of flaws unless people getting elbowed all up in the face offends you. Or you hate EXPLOSIVE RICKSHAW ACTION!!!
The Vibe: Man-Cave, Large Party, Casual Gathering
This is the type of movie you can root for the entire way. A naive monk is forced to fight a whole bunch of self-admitted evil people in tons of interesting locations in tons of interesting ways. That is pretty cut and dried, and they run with it. The villains are very bad, and they all eventually get punched in the face. The movie gets that part right and then does a whole slurry of other ambitious choices right. Tony Jaa is really, really talented. It's a quality experience to cheer for. I guarantee your party will agree.
+ Explosive muay Thai!
+ Explosive parkour!
+ Explosive rickshaws!
- Holy god please girl stop talking! It feels like a screwdrive in my ear!
- Some of the special effects are actually extra-special effects. You'll know. But it won't distract you.
- The villain uses his vibrator to talk. Yep.
- A rickshaw is decommissioned
- Someone gets knocked out
- Hard mode: take a shot when Ting has a fight people bet on