Ong-bak [2003]

No computer graphic can ever surpass what a real human body can do--and what the body can do is on spectacular display in Ong-Bak, a Thai action movie starring the lithe and flexible Tony Jaa. When the head is stolen from a holy statue in Jaa's rural village, he goes to Bangkok to get it back. Of course, it just so happens that the thief is connected to a bar where criminal big shots gamble over bare-knuckle brawls, and Jaa is--despite his virtuous efforts--drawn into the game. But that's only the beginning; a chase through the city streets rivals the ingenious acrobatics of Jackie Chan, with Jaa leaping between panes of glass, over a bicycle in motion, and through a wreath of barbed wire. Jaa's fighting prowess has been compared to Bruce Lee, Jet Li, and just about every other martial arts master, but he has an equal degree of charisma as well. He won't win acting awards, but his engaging presence carries the movie. One word of warning: The numerous fights will make you wince as much as gape in astonishment. Ong-Bak follows the action-flick tradition that the hero needs to be as battered as possible before he ultimately triumphs, and the battering is intense. --Bret Fetzer

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