Anybody who enjoys both old 70's kung fu films and modern action masterpieces like Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong - will think this title is a terrific addition to their collection. The fight sequences were filmed with nearly all full contact for brutal realism and they are excellent, especially for their time, - and seeing Tony Jaa's mentor Panna Rittikrai as a lead will make you a big fan of him as well.
As long as you set your expectations to what you will be getting (a low-budget Thai B-movie from 1986 after all!), you will be amazed. The fights are choreographed and play out like a combination of the modern style used in Ong Bak and that used in older Wu-Tang Clan style kung fu movies. But you won't be disappointed - I was personally surprised to see a ton of great slow motion, double takes, and editing in the fights to allow the viewer to really see the punishing impacts.
One thing that surprised me about this film is that THE DUB IS EXCELLENT!!! I am normally somebody who HATES watching live-action dubbed but I was shocked to see just how perfect the voices used were and how spot-on the "acting"/matching/and writing of the dub were. In part a lot of it's value comes from the dub having great "camp" flavor but it mostly stays true to the script and, IMO, improves the movie a great deal for English-speaking fans who just want to kick back and enjoy the experience.
The story is pretty basic but it generally works to stage the action, keep you interested, and add a little comedy here and there. You could nitpick some of its faults (at times things can get a little slow or dry) but who cares - you came to see some great fight/stunt sequences. And you do get quite a few cool ones!
Generally there is an entertaining fight on screen every ten minutes of it's runtime. In several different scenes, Panna is outnumbered by a gang of guys attacking him one after another and he dispatches them with great, brutal Muy Thai mixed martial arts. Two standout scenes are a motorcyle chase sequence that features at least two "oh my god, rewind that NOW!" kinds of moments and the finale where Panna goes up against a gang of ninjas. Taking the ninjas on in a forest clearing, - fighting hand-to-hand, with weapons, and on a wooden platform - the stuntmen are really tested as several brutal moves are executed in a scene that plays out like an early version of the very last scene in Ong Bak.
This DVD is likely as good a treatment as this movie will get too. Comparing the video of the feature versus some of its footage shown during the extras, it is obvious that they used the cleanest print of the film that they could find. It is presented in the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is either likely the way in which it was originally filmed or the only way we are likely to see it since so many of these early Thai films seem to have been preserved only in 4:3 with much of the original film stock expired (see the "Ong Bak 2" entry on Wikipedia). The extras are nice too and are all thankfully subtitled in English.
A detailed interview with Tony Jaa on a Thai talk show provides a lot of insight into Tony Jaa's early beginnings and into his relationship with Panna, the star of this film. Clips of Tony Jaa demonstrating his moves and cool scenes from some other early Thai B-movies he starred in are also shown. It's a great addition and the best extra on the disc. The 30+ minute documentary that follows a stuntman going through the process of being hired by Jaa's production company is also interesting and insightful but probably not something you will want to see more than once. There are two "Ong Bak spoofs" as well but these are mostly throw-away extras that will likely just leave you confused and disinterested.
Overall this is a fun, engaging title that I hope has some success on DVD so we can see more hidden gems like it released on our shores.