Thai martial-arts star Tony Jaa returns in this prequel to Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior (2003). Dispensing with the acrobatic fisticuffs and gritty Bangkok locales that elevated its predecessor to a minor-league cult classic, the new film backtracks to 15th-century feudal Thailand, where Jaa perfects his lethal talents under the tutelage of a guerrilla bandit before wreaking vengeance on the warlord who massacred his family. The stunt work is spectacular (in one scene Jaa sprints across the backs of stampeding elephants), but the lumbering swordplay is a poor showcase for Jaa's mastery of unarmed hand-to-hand combat. The convoluted plot and cinematic razzle-dazzle fail to improve on the low-fi charm of the original film, which relied squarely and unpretentiously on the star's athletic prowess. Jaa codirected with Panna Rittikrai. R, 98 min.
Director: Tony Jaa
Writer: Panna Rittikrai
Producer: Panna Rittikrai
Cast: Tony Jaa, Sorapong Chatree, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Nirut Sirichanya, Santisuk Promsiri, Primorata Dejudom, Patthama Panthong and Petchtai Wongkamlao