If anyone out there is a fan of action and/or martial arts films and doesn’t know the name Tony Jaa, then you are missing out. Jaa is Thai actor, director, and stuntman whose 2003 film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior helped popularize the martial arts style, muay Thai (identifiable by its heavy utilization of elbow and knee strikes). The film gained attention for its well coreographed fight scenes which emphasized realism over a dependency on wire work. Jaa himself gained attention for his fighting skills and his willingness to perform life-threatening stunts. Life-threatening stunt-master Jackie Chan even praised Jaa as “the most well-rounded of all action stars.”
Jaa followed up Ong-Bak with two (admittedly weak) sequels, and 2005’s Tom-Yum-Goong (titled The Protector in the US) which featured a number of martial arts styles including wrestling capoeira (which most probably know as “break-dance fighting”) and has a currently released sequel, Tom-Yum-Goong 2. Now twitchfilm has announced that in 2014 Jaa will join an “all star” Chinese cast for the Hong Kong action film, SPL 2. Hong Kong produces a legion of martial arts-action films every year featuring some of the most renowned action stars in the world – Donnie Yen, Jet Li, and of course Jackie Chan himself. SPL2 is a sequel to 2005’s SPL (Kill Zone in the US), and will feature one of that film’s stars, Wu Jing (interesting, considering – SPOILERS – his character in SPL didn’t survive). This will come about sometime after Jaa finishes with his role in the upcoming Fast & Furious 7, which is set for a July 11, 2014 release – it will be Jaa’s first foray into American cinema.
The roles in both the Thai and American sequels could be considered personal victories for Jaa; earlier this year, the Thai studio behind many of Jaa’s films, Sahamongkol Film International threatened Jaa with a lawsuit, claiming that by appearing in films outside of Thailand he was in breach of his contract with them. Jaa’s management later responded that the claim was untrue.
SPL 2 will be released “in the Americas,” though when exactly is not currently known.