Tony Jaa in 'Ong Bak 2'

Living up to expectations, at least at the box office, Ong Bak 2 opened in Thailand last Friday and did big business. The action flick, starring Tony Jaa, is on track to become the biggest local hit of the year, according to Variety Asia Online.

The production ran into trouble earlier this year when Jaa walked off the set and disappeared into the jungle to think things over. Rumors were that the stunt man turned martial arts star, who came to worldwide prominence with Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior and The Protector, had bitten off more than he could chew with his first turn in the director's chair. Jaa indicated that it was all about the production company providing enough money to make the movie he wanted to make. Old friends came back on board, differences were ironed out, and the result was a big opening.

Wise Kwai provided links to stills, a synopsis, and a translation of a press conference, so head over there for the pre-release publicity. What about the film itself? I haven't found any reviews yet, though a commenter named Brad at the blog Enjoy Thai Movies wrote: "I saw the film last night. It's terrific with a great story and amazing action. Tony Jaa commands the screen with a towering performance. Given his much publicized recent problems, it's great to see Jaa pull through with such a wonderful film. It will be major hit, I am sure."

As for US viewers, we're waiting on The Weinstein Co., which, as far as I know, still holds distribution rights. Their web site still doesn't list the film, and I'm not terribly optimistic about a theatrical release. *

* UPDATE: Our friend Wise Kwai has just posted his (almost entirely) positive review -- check it out -- and also says below that the Weinsteins bowed out of distribution some time ago. Here's hoping someone else picks it up.