2.15.2005

Dragon's Tail! Monkey's Paw! Uh... Knee To Face!

Sunday night I went to see Ong-Bak, a film which really marks a return to the best - and worst - of the early martial arts films.

In the pro column: ridiculous stunts, no wire work, no CG bullshit. Just absolutely insane physicality. It's the kind of movie that forces you to stop and say, in a strong, clear voice, "What the FUCK?" because some guy just got kneed in the chest thirty feet above the ground and fell. Hard.

Con: plot? What plot?

The main character's martial art is Muay Thai, which I'm guessing is the same thing as Thai kickboxing. It's a fluid, graceful, and remarkably asskicking art in the hands of Tony Jaa. However, two of its odder characteristics are a) a reliance on knees and elbows, which while powerful come with a severely reduced range as price, and b) a particular move I like to call 'The Shove of Doom,' wherein Jaa stands in place and pushes people. Crude, yet effective.

My personal favourite mixed blessing of this movie, however, is the enemies our hero, the marvelously named Ting, faces at an underground fight club. Each appears to be an exemplar of some particular form of martial art. They include, in order of appearance:

A) A gargantuan Australian man who appears much like what would happen if Slash had been injecting steroids into his arms in lieu of playing guitar solos with no amplifier during the November Rain video. His martial art appears to involve slapping people very hard and molesting women. In short, he's much like most Australians.

B) A skinny Asian guy with an afro whose skill appears to be shuffling his feet back and forth rapidly. I don't think he actually hits Ting at any point, he just stands there shuffling his feet like some kind of retarded minstrel show.

C) Some wordless white guy who fights exclusively with furniture. Seriously; every move the man makes involves hitting Ting with chairs, hitting Ting with tables, hitting Ting with bits of tables, or defending against Ting with the occasional sofa bed.

My goal in life is now to develop a martial art revolving entirely around furniture. I'll be the first Ikea-ka in history, teaching my devoted students how to manipulate the enemy's futons and affordable blonde-wood cabinets in such a way as to defeat them using nothing more than an Allen wrench.

Man, FUCK medicine. I have a new dream now.

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