Well this news is a bit of a pleasant surprise! I’ve been a fan of Tony Jaa since watching Ong Bak and The Protector. The Thai action star is a hard hitting, and might I add, badass, Muay Thai martial artist whose talents could put him at the level of Jackie Chan and Jet Li if he gets more US exposure. Every time I watch one of his movies, I feel the the pain being inflicted on the bad guys and am amazed at how real the fighting looks. I’m fairly convinced that Tony Jaa and the stuntmen are making full contact with each other and Jaa is just destroying them all.
Jaa has made a handful of films since his debut in Ong Bak in 2003 but it was 2010’s Ong Bak 3 that kind of lost me. The franchise went from great action to some weird spiritual.. I don’t know even know what to call it. Rumors spread that Jaa had a bit of a mental breakdown and disappeared off the face of the planet for awhile. Another rumor was that he was quitting acting and becoming a monk. I honestly didn’t think I’d be seeing Tony Jaa do another movie again. But now THR is reporting that Jaa is back and has joined the cast of Fast and Furious 7 (and after doing a little research, it looks like Jaa is also doing The Protector 2, which looks to have already complted principal photography)!
There are no details on who Jaa would be playing in the movie but I’m equally happy if he ends up sparring against the villain (Jason Statham) or the good guys (Vin Diesel and The Rock). Fast 7 will be Jaa’s first English-language film as well as his first studio picture. The sequel, directed by James Wan (The Conjuring), will start shooting in September and be racing towards its July 11, 2014 release. Jaa had this to say in regards to his casting, “I have been a big fan of the Fast and Furious franchise. The films are fast paced, fun and keep the audience involved. There is a great mix of humor and action, something I really appreciate. There is no better film to be involved in for a first U.S. studio production. Having a chance to work with Vin Diesel and The Rock already makes me a winner.”
For those of you unfamiliar with Tony Jaa’s movies, here’s a clip from The Protector. Keep in mind, that this scene is one long take.
by Ben McBride
Follow Ben on Twitter @monsterpopcorn