DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Ong-Bak - The Thai Warrior

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Aug 17, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    ONG-BAK THE THAI WARRIOR Studio: 20th Century Fox Film Year: 2003 U.S. Rating: R Canadian Rating: 18A Film Length: 105 minutes Genre: Action-Adventure Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.85:1 enhanced widescreen Colour/B&W: Colour Audio:[*] Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 surround[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround Subtitles: English, Spanish Closed Captioned: Yes SLP: US $19.95 Release Date: August 30, 2005 Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] Starring: Tony Jaa (Ting), Petchtai Wongkamlao (Humlae/George), Pumwaree Yodkamol (Muay Lek), Wannakit Sirioput (Don) Directed by: Prachya Pinkaew No computer graphics. No stunt doubles. No wires.[/i] Tagged as the new martial arts master out of the orient, Tony Jaa brings his skilful Muay Thai martial arts to film. Theatrically, this was a film event to snub Hollywood films that relied heavily on wires, stunt doubles, and computer animation to make their heroes perform movements that were once perceived as impossible. The film Ong-Bak does just that and offers a spectacular array of fighting movements that are awe inspiring. The story is simple: Tony Jaa plays Ting, the young man from a small village who is on a quest to find the stolen head of Ong-Bak, the Buddha statue. The villagers feel that their village is doomed with drought if the head is not returned. Ting personally puts himself to the challenge of finding the head before being ordained as a monk. He is very naïve outside of the village; he’s simply not used to the slugs that crawl in the city. But he is armed with the knowledge and skill of Muay Thai, a martial arts skill he vows never to use on anyone because of its deadliness. Ting is left with no choice but to use it frequently. In his unrelenting determination to find the head of Ong-Bak, “the hick” Ting puts the bad guys in their place. I found this to be a very fun film to watch because of the movements during the fight scenes. There is high adrenaline throughout the film and the characters are easy to follow. Jaa plays Ting very well but it was the character of George that I found the most amusing. His dyed-hair and cut and clothing resemble that of high school kid who’s refused to grow up and still finds himself in the middle of scams and trouble. The female support Muay has spotty performances as she’s written out of several scenes and then reappears again after the fights and the trouble are gone. This is the 105 minute version seen in most counties (titled The Thai Warrior for English audiences). The sub plot about Muay’s sister is excised from this cut. I’m not crazy about the editing of this film specifically in the fight sequences. When someone is kicked or knocked down, we sometimes see it once, twice, or even three times over, each from a different angle (just in case we missed it the first time!) I know the filmmakers really wanted to show off Jaa’s technique, but this form of editing kills the pace of the action scenes even more. VIDEO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] I am not surprised at the poor quality on this DVD. When this film went theatrical in North America, the trailers and the TV spots for the film looked hazy and unimpressive. The same applies to this DVD. I’m not sure what “generation” the source for this DVD is, but it’s about as brutal as the arm and leg breaking in this film. The image suffers from an unnecessary amount of edge enhancement. But it seems that the edge enhancement was added (intentionally or not) during some other transfer rather than specifically for this DVD. I’ll call generational sharpening. The image is also very brown – and while it may be the intent, most colours are stripped of their natural saturation and the DVD is plagued with noise, grain, and an unintentional blurriness. I really wish the video quality was better for this film. Unfortunately this is a mediocre presentation and it would have been nice to see something better than this. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and it is enhanced for widescreen TVs. AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] Again, the audio quality is only O.K., and it's much lower in volume when comparing it to other movies on DVD. There’s not much to get excited about here and that was the opposite of what I thought it was going to be. I watched the film listening to the Thai DD5.1 soundtrack rather than the English dub. In 5.1, the dialogue is in the center channel where it should be, and the music spreads across the front two channels. The hip-hop style music is wimpy sounding and it may not be the original music of the Asian release (I could be wrong). Very little of anything is spread into the surrounds except for the crowd noise during the fight scenes. The sounds of punches and kicks don’t have the Hollywood thump that we’ve grown accustomed to in films. They sound closer to the real sound of someone getting hit (and I know what that sounds like). Bass in the LFE is used sparingly. SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] At least there are a few special features worth checking out. All of them are in a 4:3 ratios (some are letterboxed). You’ll get to see a live Tony Jaa and stuntmen performance before a French auditorium audience. It’s about three minutes in length and has Jaa performing the same moves he does in the film for a live crowd. Further, we are treated to 8 movements of Muay Thai. They are named and then we see a demonstration of the movement. The next few features deal with rap videos. They aren’t of my taste in music so I didn’t find them interesting but I’ll let you know what’s included anyways: French Rap music video with Tony Jaa, the making of the music video and a promo video featuring the RZA, if that means anything to you. These features total a runtime of about 10 minutes. Lastly, we get to see three different scenes of selected B-Rolls of the film. It really is behind the scenes footage but it’s interesting nonetheless. Two Thai, two English and two French trailers are included (not enhanced for widescreen TVs and are in DD2.0 stereo). IN THE END… Well, it must be true: no wires and no stuntmen (for the lead actor at least). I wouldn’t go as far as saying there were no other additions to the film – some effects such as dust and fire are clearly added to the film when the original elements failed to generate for the camera during shooting. Still, this is an impressive film visually but a little cliché for story. This film’s goal seems to want to capture the audience visually regardless and position Tony Jaa as the new master in martial arts films. We’ll have to see about that… Michael Osadciw 05.08.18
     
  2. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the review, I've been looking forward to seeing this for a long time!
     
  3. Chris S

    Chris S Cinematographer

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    This is one that I really wanted to see in the theaters but it just never worked out. I was planning on purchasing it was released but based on your video quality review it looks like I'll just be adding it to the rental list. There's just no point in buying poor quality transfers these days.

    Thanks for the review!
    Chris S
     
  4. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    I saw this awhile back. Very entertaining. Tony Jaa is freakin amazing in it.
     
  5. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Hi Chris

    The transfer to DVD appears fine since DVD compression artefacts seem low (except during quick camera pans). I think the problem lies in the source. I speculate (and could very well be wrong) that somewhere overseas this film may have been transferred to a low-rez master in one signal format and eventually (after who knows how many processes/generations later) an NTSC source. The source doesn't look fresh. It doesn't appear film was put to tape on this side of the world...if it was, then maybe the film source was struck from a North American video edit elsewhere. Who knows...maybe someone can enlighten us on this?

    Mike
     
  6. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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    This is one I've held off purchasing due to lack of subtitles. I can't wait! [​IMG]
     
  7. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    Is it a PAL to NTSC job?
     
  8. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Thanks for the review Michael. I've been wanting to check this out and it sounds like it will make for a decent rental.
     
  9. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Your description of the vidoe sound about right as far as what I saw in the theater when it played, ugly desaturated brown color pallet, blurry (especially the multi takes and slo-mo), with the video addtitions being added in the translation to DVD.

    I was going to skip this, as to be honest, the voices of the actors annoyed the hell out fo me in the theater, and there are only so many fights featuring a flying knee or elbow to the head that can hold my interest. But I am curious to see if the English mix makes the viewing more pleasant.

    I'll probably grab this if I can find it cheap pre-viewed.

    Good review!
     
  10. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Gotta love Pumwaree Yodkamol's voice (Muay). She's so...squeeky...

    Mike
     
  11. Mike Wadkins

    Mike Wadkins Supporting Actor

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    i hate this besson mangled version stay away and find the full version
     
  12. stephen^wilson

    stephen^wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    The Hong Kong Legends dvd comes out in the U.K. on 19th september with quite a few extras:

    *Exclusive brand-new orchestral soundtrack, composed especially for the UK theatrical and DVD release

    *Dual Language Format (English Dubbed and Thai Language with re-mastered English subtitles)

    *SDH subtitle option

    *DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks

    *Exclusive feature-length audio-commentary with Asia film expert, Bey Logan

    * The Road to Glory: a fascinating 8-part making-of documentary that will take you behind-the-scenes of each of the movie's groundbreaking action-sequences

    *The Art of Muay Thai: an exclusive documentary on the art of Thai Boxing

    *From Dust to Glory: a revealing interview with leading-man, Tony Jaa

    *Ong Bak on Tour: promo tour highlights including incredible live martial arts demonstrations by Tony Jaa

    * 7 Deleted Scenes and Alternate Ending

    *Visible Secret: a rare and exclusive rehearsal montage between Tony Jaa and action-consultant, Don Ferguson

    *The Bodyguard: an exclusive interview with action-consultant, Don Ferguson

    *Mad Dog: an exclusive interview with co-star, David Ismalone

    *Pearl Harbour: an exclusive interview with co-star, Erik Markus Sheutz

    *UK Promotional Trailer

    *Fully Animated Menus

    Not sure what the new soundtrack is going to be like though.
     
  13. Mike Wadkins

    Mike Wadkins Supporting Actor

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    im buying that for the extras but its still the edited mess
     
  14. stephen^wilson

    stephen^wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    I had read on several sites that the uk dvd would be the full version.
     
  15. Mike Wadkins

    Mike Wadkins Supporting Actor

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    not as far as i understand the retailer magizine "instock" mentions bessons editing in a uk disc review

    the uk cinema showings had the edits
     
  16. stephen^wilson

    stephen^wilson Stunt Coordinator

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    The BBFC website says the cinema version was 108 mins long,
    same length as the uncut version.the region 1 disc is 105mins.
     
  17. Ryan L. Bisasky

    Ryan L. Bisasky Second Unit

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    since this dvd is by fox, i wouldn't be surprised if we get the hkl version over here in some way or another.
     
  18. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    After seeing the preview for this on the Sin City disc, looked like a must-buy.

    But I'm getting just a little tired of the first few R1 video releases of HK films being...abortions, editing and PQ-wise.

    I have often wondered if they don't try very hard with the HK DVD transfers because they won't sell many copies at home, most people will end up with bootlegs, not worth the cost. And we end up with their minimal efforts by convenience.

    The HK films Fox has re-released have generally been quite acceptable to me, so as Ryan says, maybe someday for this one. Getting it half decent the first time would be better though, this isn't '97 and we'll take anything on DVD.

    As far as the R2, I'll wait for what DVDBeaver says first.
     
  19. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    I bought an asian version last year that was obviously a PAL-NTSC transfer and the pic. was pretty bad. Worth watching to see the stuntwork but not impressive visually at all. I was hoping for a better release but...
     
  20. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    The theatrical prints of this in Canada looked atrocious, like they were sourced from DV masters (the subtitles had a very computer generated look to them). I'm not surprised that the DVD looks mediocre.
    That being said, I thought the film was a lot of fun. Would love to see the uncut version.
     

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