Too much contemplation and not enough demonstration sends Thai-socky “Ong Bak 3” slumping to the canvas. Latest and reportedly final installment lacks the emotional clout that would compensate for the meager footage of martial-arts superman/co-helmer Tony Jaa beating the daylights out of all comers. Pic has grossed an underwhelming $1.4 million locally since May (the 2003 original took $7 million) and will likely struggle to perform theatrically offshore. Brand-name recognition should produce reasonable ancillary results.
It’s never say never in franchise land, but another chapter looks unlikely anytime soon given Jaa’s recent decision to quit the film biz for a spell in a Buddhist monastery. Picking up where “Ong Bak 2” left off, 15th-century fighting machine Tien (Jaa) comes to the rescue of downtrodden villagers suffering under sadistic Lord Rajasena (Sarunyu Wongkrajang) and supernatural heavy “Crow Ghost” (Dan Chupong). Far too much time is dedicated to Tien observing nature and sitting cross-legged following repetitious advice from his spiritual mentor (Nirut Sirijanya). Tien’s romance with local girl Pim (Wongkamlaoprimrata Det-Udom) is tepid, and overactive lensing and editing of fight scenes stand in contrast to the clean simplicity of the prior entries.