Midnight Madness day 10: Ong Bak 2: The Beginning

Throughout TIFF, Kris and Joe will be doing "shared" reviews, in which we'll offer our opinions on a particular film in a single post. This is the tenth and final day.
In the final third of my 10 hour shift yesterday, I experienced a strange shifting sensation, and not one exclusively confined to the bowels.  No, I felt light, elated, reborn, awake.  I had got my second wind.  I was hoping, like a girl awaiting her period after her boyfriend "forgot" to pull out, that it would arrive on time, mid-fest, and that I might meet second half of the films with enthusiasm and energy.  Unfortunately, the only movies that I entered with that feeling intact were the first two and last night's final film in the program, Ong Bak 2: The Beginning.

Ostensibly the "sequel"(?) to the jaw-droppingly revolutionary 2003 Thai martial arts gem Ong Bak, this one was a sequel in name only, having nada to do with the earlier film, and truth be told, aside from increased wattage in the violence department, this one left me feeling a little empty.  I wanted to love it so much, and when director/star Tiny Jaa (who couldn't be in attendance) spoke to the crowd in a prerecorded message onscreen and told us that he loved us all, I believed him.  However, after a super sick opening 15 minutes or so, the movie faltered by delving into Jaa's foray into gaydom dancing and repeating scenes (at their full running length) from earlier in the movie.  Jaa really should stay in front of the camera as the pacing is clunky, the slo-mo is beaten to death, then sodomized, and...okay, what the fuck was with the dancing.  Jesus Tiny, bring the pain already!

Perhaps I'm being overly critical, but the film, which ran just under 2 hours, could have easily had its wings clipped at 90 minutes.  With certain provisos in place, like the excision of the dancing and a conflation of the simple yet overly drawn out story, the film could have been excellent; as it stands, it is merely good, something to watch once on DVD, fast forward through the middle section, and forget about.  This really should have been called The Protector 2, as it has more in common with that film's love for elephants than the original Ong Bak.  I must say, though, two things in this were so badass: the final 15 minute fight scene was absolutely beyond belief; and within that scene emerged some kind of inexplicably crow-squawking evil version of Jaa (a la Venom) that bested him and then vanished after an awesome and brutal fight atop an elephant (yup).

I would have liked the Madness to have ended on a higher note, but all in all, it was a super sick time, thanks in large part to my film buddy extraordinaire, Kristof, without whom I certainly would have talked myself out of attending a couple of the screenings for the sake of a regular sleep schedule and my sanity.  It ain't called Midnight Madness for nuthin'...

I'm already looking forward to next year...

-the coelacanth
and just like that BAM! ... that's all she wrote man.... that's all she wrote.

The final Midnight Madness screening (and the last screening for all of TIFF for that matter) was... ONG BAK 2: THE BEGINNING!!!!

Yeah man! Elbow throwing, elephants, mind blowing stunts, and dancing.... wait.. what? dancing?

well, i must admit Midnight Madness had its little way with me and i, sadly, could not for the life of me fight off the deep sleep i've put off for the past week and a half. Good news is, that apparently i slept through all the bad bits in the film. I vaguely remember seeing blurry images of masked dancers that seemed to go on forever.
I saw roughly 45 minutes of the film and what i saw was what i expected. High knees and low elbows galore.
Yet, the film seemed to be weakly paced between the elbows and was very redundant.
It was a film that had a heavy flashback aspect to it, only the flashbacks were replayed over and over. Now it's ok to show the audience a snippet of a scene that was revealed earlier so we can understand where in the films timeline it belongs, or just to flesh out the scene more to make it stick with us. But, it's NOT ok to play a whole 5 minute scene we've already sat through again. At one point during OB2 the whole openning scene was played again from beginning to end and in my state (i was constantly jumping from dream to elbow to the face state) my soul shook in horror as i thought the film was playing itself over again. Had i fallen asleep and woken up in the past, or did i live a premoiniton a la Final Destination style?

That being said, Ong Bak 2 is good when it does what you want it to do. It soars when it's kneeing you on the chin or fighting on the backs of elephants. Unfortunately, you have to sit through much tedium to get there.

Well that's all folks! Joe and I are gonna wrap this bitch up tomorrow or the day after with our faves, and some highlights of the fest.
Just wanna say it was a blast.
Not all the films were masterpieces (ahem, Survival of the Dead) but all screenings were a blast.


No comments: