no wires or computer generated shots during the fight scenes were used, that’s probably the most important thing to know when going into watching it. tony jaa is the potential heir to the jackie chan/jet li throne, but i think it’s too early to tell. he’s more along the lines of jackie chan, only not as funny. chan is still more impressive, but you can see that jaa has the talent to really wow audiences. hopefully he gets lucky and gets to work with a director as talented as yuen woo-ping (like chan did early in his career). yuen’s choreography is unparalleled in my opinion, and i think chan benefited quite a bit from this fact.
the story is pretty standard fare: country boy (jaa) forced to go into the city and face the ills of society on his own. luckily he runs into a cousin who is from the same village. unluckily this same cousin has turned into a street hustler who is in constant debt. jaa navigates the city landscape in search of a religious artifact which is stolen in the first reel of the film. of course along the way he gets dragged into his cousin’s fight with a local gangster and unwittingly falls into a boxing match at a local bar. the chase scenes are impressive and the fight scenes feature some uniquely thai fighting styles. lots of bent leg kicks and other unusual fighting forms. generally martial art films are more influenced by chinese or japanese styles, so it’s nice to see something different here. it’s directed well enough and the story has enough to keep things moving. worth checking out if you’re a fan of martial arts films.