Tony Jaa pretty much proved himself an instant action legend with Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior in 2003.
He is highly skilled in Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, swordplay and gymnastics with a reputation for doing as many of his own stunts as possible. He also does not like to use any wire work or CG effects in his stunts.
He is also greatly influenced by Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee and was quoted as saying “Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee are my masters; they’re the inspiration for my work.
Bruce Lee was a heavy fighter who threw hard punches. Jackie moves very fast and uses a lot of comedy, and Jet Li is very fluid. I’ve tried to combine all of their styles and added some things of my own”.
Jaa is a sight to behold in screen with his almost inhuman speed and agility; he is more impressive than any special effects. With the Ong Bak and Protector franchises he remains one of the best martial arts stars in the business and is now giving Hollywood a shot with upcoming roles in Fast and Furious 7 and Skin Trade.
The Protector has one of the best action sequences I’ve seen for a long time with Jaa taking on many opponents in a restaurant which was done in a single take. That is the kind of dedication I love to see in our genre and is one of the reasons that it’s one of my favourite movies too.
We were lucky enough to speak with Tony a few months back about Skin Trade and he provided some details on the film: “I am very excited about ‘Skin Trade’, for many reasons. This is the first movie shot by an Asia based organization (outside of China/Hong Kong) in English for international theatrical release. The movie was shot 90 percent on location in Thailand which I was quite proud of”.
He also spoke about his character: “I play a Thai detective. My character has certain personal reasons for wanting to end human trafficking. At the same time the story line within the movie twists and turns where it takes a while until you realize who is good and who is bad, and there are some very grey areas”.
We’ve been massive supporters of Skin Trade because it sounds like it could be something special; with a cast that includes Jaa, Dolph Lundgren, Peter Weller, Ron Perlman and Michael Jai White I think it’s going to be pretty awesome. Not only is the action going to be off the scale, but it sounds like we will get a good story with well developed characters too. It hits theatres in 2015.
The ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise is an interesting choice for Jaa as it’s his first foray into a big budget Hollywood blockbuster and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the series. I hope he gets plenty of screen time and has some epic fight scenes. He said it “it is going to be quite a film“.
Tony Jaa has also worked with Dolph Lundgren on a movie called ‘A Man Will Rise’ which is currently awaiting release, so hopefully we can get more information on it soon.
Essential movies include Ong Bak and The Protector; I have to admit to not being a huge fan of The Protector 2 as there was too much obvious CGI which took a lot away from the action, but it does have its moments.
I think Jaa will go from strength to strength and I’ll be interested in seeing what he does after Skin Trade and Fast & Furious. He is also currently working on SPL 2; a sequel to the 2005 Donnie Yen movie but contrary to the fiction told by IMDB he is NOT in The Raid 3.