Scene4 Magazine-inSight

June 2010

Scene4 Magazine - Arts of Thailand - Thai Film - PALME D'OR - The first Thai film to win the top prize at Cannes | Janine Yasovant -
. . . and a review of Tony Jaa's "Ong Bak3"

by Janine Yasovant

คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

It is a great honor to acknowledge the first Thai film to ever win the top prize, the coveted Palme d'Or, at the Cannes Festival:

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, a film by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.

As the New York Times noted:

"On Sunday evening the 63rd Cannes Film Festival came to a shocking, exhilarating close with the Palme d'Or going to "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" from the Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Surely the only Palme winner to feature sex between a princess and a thrashing catfish, "Boonmee" is a fantastical tale about a dying man whose past lives — and ghostly relatives — enraptured some critics while turning others off. The speculation that it might appeal to the jury president, Tim Burton, along with some of his more discerning fellow jury members, proved true. On accepting the award Mr. Weerasethakul (who goes by Joe) said in English that "this is like another world for me," and noted that "Uncle Boonmee" is the first Thai film to win the Palme. "I would really like to kiss all of you," he said to the jury, telling Mr. Burton that he liked his hairstyle. Mr. Weerasethakul thanked "all the spirits and ghosts in Thailand," who made it "possible for me to be here."


Later he also said, "I'd like to send a message home: This prize is for you."

It was a thrilling announcement for me and the people of Thailand.

Tony Jaa's Ong Bak3

Now, coming back down to Earth… Some people argued that Ong Bak (2003), was the most successful of Tony Jaa (Tatchakorn Yeerum) for many reasons. One of them is his dedicated training in the martial arts. Jaa mastered an array of martial arts including Muay Thai which is the martial arts of Thailand. In the film, Jaa showed us how practical and deadly ancient Muay Thai was. Moreover, he added gymnastics to enhance the fighting moves in an even more exciting way. Therefore it is understandable that many people admire and support him.

In 2005, he played a man who went to retrieve his kidnapped elephants in a movie called "Tom Yam Goong", which was criticized for a weak plot that was not as good as Ong Bak.

Ong Bak 2 (2008) was Jaa's first attempt to direct his own movie but it was not quite as successful as he intended because there were many problems during production including financing and mismanagement. After many delays, Jaa negotiated with Sia Jiang, the president of Sahamonkol film (film distributors), who provided additional financing to continue the film but pressured the movie to be divided into two parts.

Ong Bak 3 (2010) is a sequel which took place after the cliffhanger ending of Ong Bak 2. The plot of this movie is very simple but the action and fight sequences are oustanding.


The synopsis of Ong Bak 3

After Tian killed Chernung, the thief leader, during the duel, he was captured and brutally tortured by the order of Lord Rajasena.  A group of remaining thieves tried to rescue him but failed and perished. Fortunately, after the execution was interrupted, Tian was saved by villagers and his girlfriend called Pim but he lost all of his fighting skills when he recovered and found out that he was crippled. The villagers also created the golden buddha statue for Tian. Meanwhile, Lord Rajasena suffered from the curse and sought after a black magician called Bhuti Sangkha who can remove it for him Unexpectedly, Bhuti Sangkha killed Lord Rajasena and promoted himself to be the next king instead.

With no reason to live, Tian tried to commit suicide but Phra Bua, a monk who was once his dancing teacher forbade him to do so and taught him the path of virtue and meditation. Pim tried to help him to do physical therapy using graceful dancing. When Tian was fully healed, he combined the dancing, all martial arts and meditation to invent the ultimate fighting moves called "Nathayuth". Later, the village where Tian was hiding was destroyed and all villagers were captured by the order of the new king. Tian fought with many soldiers in the village and the forehead of the Buddha statue damaged by the enemy's sword during the fight. Phra Bua also gave him the holy wooden staff to nullify the black magic. Tian rushed to help the villagers and won the fight with Bhuti Sangkha in the end…

Despite some flaws in many scenes, this movie is still enjoyable to see.  Jaa tried to express more of the character's emotional life in the film with a lessening of the level of violence.

It's interesting that the final fight scene has two versions. In the first version, Tian was driven by hatred and vengeance after he saw that Pim was killed by Bhuti Sangkha. Both were fighting furiously and Tian was stabbed to death by a spear. The second version showed us that Tian abandoned his ignorance and threw the staff to negate the curse and Tian fought with Bhuti Sangkha without killing him and did not use the weapon and so that he lived in the end.

How these two versions appear in distribution is even more interesting.



View other readers' comments in the Readers Blog

Click Here for this article in Thai 
คลิกเพื่ออ่านบทความนี้ เป็นภาษาไทย

©2010 Janine Yasovant
©2010 Publication Scene4 Magazine

Scene4 Magazine: Janine Yasovant
Janine Yasovant is a writer, a Senior Writer for Scene4.
and the manager of the Scene4 bureau in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

For more of her commentary and articles, check the Archives


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June 2010

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