As much as it sounds like an invitation to a newly renovated Chinese restaurant, it just ain't. It is Thai, and it can be called a restaurant if all of us - all of God's children and devout followers of the Oxford English Dictionary - decide to call that mammoth 70mm of flat, off-white celluloid, a restaurant. It can be done, just like this movie can be called Enter The New Dragon. Simply because it can be.
ETND begins by reminding us of Darwin's Theory Of Evolution, the opening scene sees a bunch of dudes climbing a tree with the kind of agility and speed that would put some of our ancient ancestors to shame. Needless to say, of course, that our hero Ting emerges victorious. Our ancestors would be so proud!
Ting is well-versed in Muay Thai, a martial art that is as lethal as it is graceful. And he is days away from his ordination to priesthood. Just as the festivities leading up to the ordination start to hot up, some bottom-rung scum feeder decides to steal the Ong Bak - the statue of Buddha that protects the village. Gasp!
So to Bangkok we must go to retrieve the sacred statue, and to show off Ting's martial art prowess. We will keep finding ourselves at this fight-pit where fighters have little scruples and the people who lay bets on them have even less.
It doesn't require super-brilliance to know that is a great way for Ting to entertain the audience with his craft, but his true genius comes to the fore in a foot-chase scene which sees him jump over cars, trampoline over pots of boiling oil, curl-roll through steel wires, and all of this while running! The guy is good, you gotta hand him that.
A lot of kickass action stunts later, somebody realizes that a stolen statue has to be recovered, if only to get the movie going a little longer. Ting can get the statue if he loses a fight - ka-paw, ch-chachacha, blood-spurting and gore. More of it, we mean.
One kinda cool troika sequence later, we are right down to the clincher. The hero's played fair so far, killed no one, but if he still wants the statue then some of that has gotta change.
And it does, but not by much. You still don't need to think at all to sail through the movie. But then, in all fairness, it doesn't package itself as something that aims to be intellectually stimulating. It promises to be the mother of all contemporary karate action movies, and on that count you really cannot fault it. At all.