Like a Thai cowboy, Tony Jaa runs onto the scene, dispensing brutal justice with his eight limbs. I give you . . . the Tony Jaa Experience.
Tony Jaa is a Thai martial artis actor, choreographer, and all-around badass. What sets him apart from others? A couple of things. 1) no cgi or wire-work. 2) the awesomeness of Muay Thai in a movie industry thoroughly saturated with stock kung fu moves that were old in the 70’s. 3) He makes it hurt. Lately, martial arts fight scenes (really any fight scenes that I’ve seen) look more like dances with fast paced, flowery moves that have no practical application in an real fight. Tony Jaa brings on the hurt. He fights. When he leaps across a room and plants a knee in someone’s face, even the viewer feels it. Eat your heart out, Yuen Wo-Ping. And, certainly, Prachya Pinkaew‘s stylistic camera work helps (I don’t know if you noticed but the first four minutes of that clip were one continuous shot).
I’ve seen two of Tony Jaa’s films, Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong. Although, in all fairness, the copy of Tom Yum Goong I have doesn’t have English subtitles. Well, ok, it does, but they aren’t the subtitles to that movie. It’s what I get for buying it in Chinatown. However, a good third of the movie is actually in English, so that helps. And, c’mon, you don’t need to know what they’re saying. The basic rundown of the plot of both movies is Tony Jaa is a Thai peasant from a small village, living in relative peace until bad men from the big city ruin his simple life (in Ong Bak, they steal the head of the village Buddha, in Tom Yum Goong they steal two elephants that he grew up with). So he’s got to track ’em down and educate them on how big of a mistake it was. So, yeah, he’s not redefining plot mechanics, but he sure kicks enough ass to make up for it. Each of his movies is filled with ca-razy stunts and mind-blowing fights. Is that Jackie Chan I hear crying in the back? One of my favorite fights is between Tony Jaa and a Capoeira fighter. That fight’s doubly awesome because it involves two martial arts that you never really get to see in movies.
Seriously, if I had enough money, I’d pay a guy to follow him around with a video camera. And then occasionally pay people to attack him. If you have any interest in the martial arts genre, watch these movies! And then buy them, and watch them again. You will love them. I am telling you that you will love them. Why haven’t you watched them yet?!
I leave you with this. Note that getting stabbed only seems to enrage him . . .