When the first Ong Bak rolled out in theaters around the world in 2003, the movie’s star, Muay Thai fighter Tony Jaa, was instantly heralded as the next Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. His butt-kicking skills were undeniably impressive–the brutal, bruising fights in that movie put most Hollywood-produced action flicks to shame. But for whatever reason, Jaa’s brand of martial arts never caught on with a wide audience here in the U.S. Apart from the 2005 film Tom Yum Goong (released here as The Protector) his post-Ong Bak pictures could only seen via pirated DVD. So it make sense that Jaa is returning to the franchise that made him a star in Ong Bak 2, which was released in Asia last year and is just now finding its way to these shores (although, once again, those who know where to look have probably already seen the film via bootleg copies). A prequel rather than a sequel, Ong Bak 2 takes place centuries before the first film and casts Jaa as–what else?–a warrior out to take revenge on the man that killed his parents. Look for the film in theaters on October 23.
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