Let’s face it, you’re not here for the plot, are you? Just for the record, though: ‘Martial Arts Expert Travels To Australia To Rescue His Two Holy Elephants From An Evil Crime Syndicate...’
So, then. Action. Are the set-pieces up to Ong-Bak standards? Oh yes. Even if Warrior King lacks Ong-Bak’s bruisingly spectacular edge, Jaa’s stuntman-free antics are still head and battered shoulders ahead of anyone else working in the martial arts field.
A warehouse battle against extreme-sports types on motorbikes, skates and boards; a single-take, four-minute fight sequence spanning four floors of a restaurant; a bruising scrap against multiple foes in a flooded, burning room... After a slow-burn, Jackie Chan-style fish-out-of-water start (Chan even gets a comic cameo early on), Warrior King settles into a punishing second half of innovative combat mayhem that relentlessly pummels your spinning senses.
Jaa’s onscreen persona is all granite power and alpha-male aggression. Off it – in the chunky interview footage – he’s charm personified; a smiley, dedicated filmmaker happy to detail the ludicrous training and choreography that goes into his work. His subtitled chat, together with the interviews with director Prachya Pinkaew and supporting cast, more than makes up for the lack of a commentary. The two- disc set could use a punchier Making Of doc – the pre-production featurette errs on the side of video diary – but it’s still a package with plenty of clout.