Poor Tony Jaa, he started off with a ferocious punch to theater screens back in 2003 with the original Ong Bak and then followed it up with a great display of martial art acrobatics in The Protector (American title).  Critics and fans were comparing him with an aging Jackie Chan and Jet Li and some speculated that he might actually be this generation’s martial arts phenomenon.  Then Ong Bak 2 came out and things started going downhill.

Jaa directed Ong Bak 2 but had a mental meltdown on the set and left to meditate in the forest for several weeks. His dramatic display of anguish slowed down filming and the film took way longer than it should have to finish. Ultimately, this hurt both the film’s box office chances and Jaa’s reputation. I’m not even sure if Ong Bak 2 opened in North American theaters. If it did, then it was on a very limited release.

Now Jaa is releasing Ong Bak 3; his second attempt at directing and if he doesn’t get his act together then this one will make less than the others. I would give you a brief synopsis for Ong Bak 3 but there doesn’t seem to be one. What I can tell you, though, is what it will mostly be about.

Jaa plays Tien, an orphan that is raised by a vicious pirate to eventually replace him as leader of the pirate clan. Along the way, Tien learns the awful truth about the death of his parents and uses his martial arts skills to avenge them. In Ong Bak 3, it would appear that Tien is back and, for some unexplained reason, is kicking much warrior ass. Watch the trailer below and enjoy:

I know it sounds like I’m hating on Tony Jaa but I really do enjoy his display of martial arts prowess. Heck, I even own Spirited Killer on Special Edition DVD. I just wish he would buckle down and make a better film story wise. Everything he does is based in and around Thai mysticism and legend, which is fine, but it severely limits his audience. English speaking audiences usually don’t flock to sub-titled films unless they can understand the story. Only the hardcore martial arts action film watchers, like myself, would venture into the theater to see one of his films.

That being said, the fighting scenes in Ong Bak 3 look sick! The use of elephants in the last 2 films was fantastic and it appears that doesn’t change in the third film. Jaa really is incredible to watch but I’d love to see what he could do in a properly written action film.

What do you think of Ong Bak 3 and did you watch the first two films?

Ong Bak 3 opens somewhere, most likely not here, in 2010.