There are hardly any words to describe the visual flair of Ong-bak. Tony Jaa is as intense as anyone on screen, refusing assistance from wires or special effects. That's something you need to be aware of before watching. Most of the stunts included here shouldn't even be humanly possible without assistance, yet they're here.
If you're looking for some deep, involving, and thought provoking plot, this is not your movie. It's a simple story of a man who simply wants to reclaim what was taken from his village. The only reason that story exists is to give Jaa's character some motivation. For these extensive and simply amazing action set pieces, nothing occurring outside of them matters.
The fights use everything - from saws, to tables, to bottles, to various weapons, to the environment. It's impossible not to be enthralled with the on screen action. There's an oddity here, immediate replays of the more or less impossible shots, both to slow it down and appreciate it, plus to re-assure the viewer that what they saw did just happen. The slow motion use is annoying at times, and the impact of certain brutal hits might have worked better at full speed.
Whether or not this is film art is debatable. It's more like Tony Jaa's resume. That doesn't mean this isn't entertaining. It is, and for action fans, it's a necessity. (**** out of *****)
The magnificent stunts are ruined by this region 1 DVD transfer. This is a depressing way to see the movie. There are sequences of gorgeous clarity, mostly a few daytime shots, and the rest is miserable. Compression is heavy, and it's made worse by the film’s use of deep orange tones. Grain is noticeable throughout, and later scenes show some ugly edge enhancement. Colors bleed severely, and the opening moments are hard to watch. It all looks muddy and unclean. (**)