On this night, I endeavored to deliberately watch bad movies. The first movie on the list: Ong Bak 3, written and directed by Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai. Tony Jaa actually plays the leading role in this as well, which is the main draw of the whole Ong Bak trilogy since all the stunts performed on-screen are real. No wires or tricks or anything except a bunch of skilled, sweaty stunt men performing crazy feats of martial combat for your viewing pleasure.

I was actually surprised at how not-bad Ong Bak 3 was. From the reviews, I was expecting no plot at all, just scene after scene of loosely strung together fights. Instead, Ong Bak 3 turned out to be a more meditative and contemplative movie about the nature of power, especially as displayed in the form of martial arts. It also didn’t hurt that the cinematography was really pretty.

That said, one of the most common complaints (and reasons for the low ratings) was the lack of plot, with an equal lack of fight scenes. Now, while Ong Bak 3 has it’s fair share of martial showdowns, most of the movie is spent not fighting. For someone who only watched Ong Bak 3 for the action parts, it’s a major disappointment of an action movie, and without any plot reasons to excuse the lack of action.

The thing is, there is a plot, and it’s not bad as far as plots go, though it is quite basic and simplistic. Make no mistake: Ong Bak 3’s plot is not a draw on it’s own, but it really makes the movie more than just your regular brawling action flick where the lone hero faces off against entire armies in quick succession. It is an internally consistent action flick where the lone hero faces off against an entire army without actually facing off against the entire army.

Before I go any further, I’d like to say that I have not watched Ong Bak or Ong Bak 2. However, Ong Bak 3 refered to a lot of prior events in the other two movies via flashback, and those flashbacks made the basic backstory pretty clear. The movie was also a bit on the nonlinear side, with lots of events occurring simultaneously or in the past.

Now, onto the plot!

The Long Version

Ong Bak 3 is the story of a man named Tien who is out to avenge his father’s death. However, at the start of the film, he is already captured, and despite his rather spectacular attempt to escape, Tien is subdued and the punishment resumes. The King orders all of Tien’s bones to be broken, and they are.

This is all done onscreen, so if you’re the squeamish type, you might want to skip the entire opening sequences.

Once all of Tien’s bones have been broken, the he’s strung up in public and left there. During the night, a rescue attempt is made that fails miserably when this character called The Crow interferes and kills off the would-be rescuers. The King offers to reward The Crow, who refuses and tells The King he can remove the curse the previous king cast on him when The King murdered him.

The king is too proud to accept, and The Crow leaves to continue cursing the people and making everyone in this one village ill with his dark supernatural powers.

The King orders Tien to be executed, but a messenger rushes in with an order from a higher king, ordering Tien to be given to him. The King has no choice to comply, and one of his ministers points out that there’s a traitor in their midst, and that he’s sent out assassins after Tien and his royal rescuers.

The King then goes off and has a curse-caused hallucination-induced panic attack and kills one of his ministers, and we jump back to Tien who has been brought to that one village that everyone was being cursed in. Turns out it’s his home village or something and his childhood dancer friend is there to tend to his wounds. But then the assassins attack and kill the royal rescuers, but get killed in the process, which is convenient because no one in the village can fight.

A Buddhist priest takes over healing Tien and mentions how his spirit cannot return to his body because of past life’s bad karma, so the entire village bands together to donate gold and build a statue to appease everyone Tien offended in his past life, while his dancer friend dances until she cannot stand. Tien miraculously gets better, though he is severely crippled.

Ashamed of his inability to even walk straight after being the strongest warrior in pretty much all of Thailand, Tien drags himself to a nearby cliff and tries to jump, only his crazy friend distracts him long enough for the Buddhist priest to talk some sense into Tien and impart some profound lessons about life. The Buddhist priest tells Tien that what he needs now is meditation and contemplation, so Tien drags himself out into an abandoned jungle temple and goes through the painful process of rehabilitating himself both physically and mentally.

A large chunk of the movie a training montage of Tien struggling to rehabilitate himself. He eventually does with the help of his childhood dancer friend, now lover, who teaches him dances, which Tien learns rehabilitate both body and mind.

Meanwhile, The King continues to gradually go crazy as the curse hounds him, until he finally swallows his pride and seeks out The Crow. The Crow has the previous king’s body in his throne room, and basically tells The King that he wants everything The King has, and that The Crow is going to take it all because The King does not deserve the power he has.

There is another big fight scene with The Crow punching people through thick stone walls, collapsing the roof of his palace, and finally decapitating The King, whose disembodied head curses The Crow for a few good minutes afterwards. The Crow is like, “whatever” and goes on to take over the kingdom, becoming an evil despot who enslaves the people and topples elephants to drink their blood.

Meanwhile, back with Tien, he’s doing his daily meditating and physical conditioning regime when his crazy friend brings a soldier to visit, only the soldier also brought friends along and they’re all out to kill Tien. Tien does some fancy dancing footwork and subdues all the soldiers with a little bit of help from his crazy friend, and all is well until Tien spots the smoke drifting through the trees. He runs back to the village and finds it completely burned down, with everyone either missing or dead. A whole bunch of soldiers come out of nowhere and attack him, and he subdues all of them without any weapons because weapons only help perpetuate violence.

Tien finds the Buddhist priest and has a chat about the evils of the world and how to avoid them, and then the Buddhist priest gives Tien his staff and wishes him on his merry way.

We next see Tien standing on the same statue-thing he was chained to at the start of the film, challenging The Crow. The Crow is all “HAHA I can put out the sun!” and he does, which causes everyone except the mind-controlled soldiers to cower in the lack of light. Tien’s dancer lover is brought to The Crow and her throat slit, at which point Tien loses it and attacks all the soldiers in a battle scene that involves him ripping a man’s throat out with his teeth, punching armor off one guy, punching out that same guy’s heart, a catapulting statue-thing, and a whole lot of elephants. In the end though, The Crow is all “you soldiers suck” and tosses a spear right through Tien’s heart after a line about how he feeds on the vengeance in Tien’s heart.

And then Tien travels back in time to the moment before he locked eyes with The Crow, resolves to not go all kill-happy, and proceeds to make the sun shine again. This breaks The Crow’s power so that now he is nothing more than a very evil man and knocks out everyone under The Crow’s mind control. The Crow and Tien then have a showdown where Tien completely dominates The Crow with his slick dance moves, right up until Tien tosses The Crow onto a giant stone flowerpot. One reversal later, The Crow has a spear which he tosses at Tien, and there is a long moment of blood dripping down the spear, but surprise! Tien caught the weapon before it hit his throat and the blood is only from his hands.

Tien and The Crow keep battling it out until Tien has The Crow suspended over the edge of the throne platform. The Crow is all “I CAN FLY!!!”, only he can’t anymore because broken powers, and so he wriggles out of Tien’s hold, lands on top of the elephant he had toppled for blood-drinking purposes, then slides off onto the elephant’s broken tusk, and dies after puking up a whole ton of blood.

The people rejoice and Tien, his lover, his crazy friend, and the rest of the village go back to thank the golden statue for changing Tien’s karma, and Tien goes back to diligently practicing his dance arts.

The end.

The Short Version

A man out for revenge for his father’s death learns the hard way that vengeance only perpetuates the cycle of violence. He sets out to end the cycle of violence and succeeds. The end.

Side Notes

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  1. Royal_Terror on 4 January 2014, 23:22 said:

    How did the Crow take the kingdom? Can the assasin of a king automatically take his place in this world?

  2. swenson on 5 January 2014, 00:04 said:

    I saw the first Ong Bak. For some reason I ended up watching it in Thai with Japanese subtitles. I understand neither of those languages. Thank you, Wikipedia, for providing the plot summary.

    Anyway. If I were to watch this movie, it would probably not be in Thai/Japanese, if I’m supposed to be watching it for reasons other than the fight scenes.

    he subdues all of them without any weapons because weapons only help perpetuate violence

    As opposed to Tien’s fists and feet, which perpetuate no violence at all?

    Seriously (well, vaguely more seriously), glad to see the series has continued making no sense whatsoever in favor of doing ridiculous and awesome things. But does this actually have any connection to the first movie? That one was set in the modern day and all… maybe the second movie explains it.

    @Royal_Terror – maybe everyone was just too scared to tell him he couldn’t be king, what with his magic powers and all?

  3. Kyllorac on 5 January 2014, 20:41 said:


    The Crow has crazy mad magical mind control skills. At least, he did until Tien made the sun shine by the sheer power of enlightenment.


    I have no idea how Ong Bak 3 relates to the other two, except that it’s a direct sequel to Ong Bak 2. I went in basically blind.

    As for his fists and feet, of course they perpetuate no violence. He is practicing the art of dance which heals the mind and body. His enemies are actually his dance partners, and any physical repercussions they suffer at the end of the performance will help them avoid fighting in the future as they find eternal peace.