Tony Jaa plays Ting, a humble young country boy in a rural Thailand village, who goes on a quest to retrieve the stolen head of the village deity, the titular Ong-Bak. Ong-Bak was stolen by a drug peddler working for a cold-blooded crime boss who, for some reason, collects stolen Buddha heads. Naturally, this McGuffin leads him to seedy fight clubs, rope fist fights and back-alley chases, as well as a former villager turned unscrupulous gambler with (once again, naturally) a heart of gold.
Tony Jaa is a fascinating figure in his fights. His style resembles Jake LaMotta more than Bruce Lee, as he lets his opponents smack him around before raining hell upon them. And it is indeed hell he rains – with blinding speed he punches, kicks, leaps and smashes his way through the film. Despite the brutality, it is all played with a sense of humor (be on the lookout for graffiti addressed to Luc Besson and Steven Spielberg, and a foot chase not out of place in a car commercial).