Ong-Bak: New Thai Cinema, Hong Kong and the cult of the ‘real’ | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1474-2756
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0578


The article examines the Thai martial arts film (2003), a commercial success in South East Asia and a growing cult hit in the West. The author looks at the film in three contexts. First, it is placed in the context of ‘New Thai Cinema’, a category associated with both nationalist and transnational characteristics. Second, the film is seen at the intersection of the relationship between Thai and Hong Kong cinema, with reworking Hong Kong's tradition of ‘authentic’ stunt work. Finally, the notion of ‘authenticity’ is considered as a ‘return of the real’ in an age of digital action cinema. This is argued to be double-edged, as an alternative to the virtual action of ‘First Cinema’ (and the sequels in particular), but also complicit in casting Thailand as a ‘primitive’ cinema.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): martial arts; Thai cinema; the ‘real’
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