Action filmmakers Panna Rittikrai and Prachya Pinkaew, together the driving force behind Tony Jaa and Ong-Bak, Jeeja Yanin and Chocolate and a dozen or so other action films from Sahamongkol Film International, are guests at the Udine Far East Film Festival.
Panna and Prachya each had meetings with the press and they talked their careers, their views on filmmaking and future projects.
Both mentioned that one of their upcoming projects -- aside from Ong-Bak 3 of course -- will feature seven female fighters, inspired by Seven Samurai. It will include Chocolate star Jeeja Yanin. Prachya said "it will show a new fighting style combining martial arts with traditional Thai sword-fighting and some use of CGI."
Though not mentioned in either write-up, presumably this seven female fighters movie would be coming after the current "Jeeja project", Du Suay Doo, the action-romance being directed by Rashane Limtrakul and also stars "Kazu" Patrick Tang.
Both Prachya and Panna also talked about working on Ong-Bak 2. Here's Prachya:
He produced, but didn’t direct, Ong-Bak 2, and admits to doubting the choice of his colleagues and friends Panna Rittikrai and Tony Jaa to set the movie in 15th century Thailand – he was afraid the audience wouldn’t be interested in ancient Thai history and although he’s quite pleased with the end result he would have preferred for the sequel to have been connected to the first Ong Bak. He also feels there should have been more action scenes and a bigger variety of fighting styles. “Luckily,” he says, “you’ll have the chance to see more in Ong-Bak 3”.
Rittikrai talks about the difficulties faced during the production of [Ong-Bak 2], a long process that took 3 years – a perfectionist at heart, he would repeatedly reshoot scenes until he was satisfied, while at the same time juggling the roles of director, action supervisor and producer. This meant that he not only had to take care of the action scenes, but also oversee other aspects, like the acting and locations.
Tension on the set was high, given the fact that Jaa too had high expectations for the film. Says Rittikrai of his pupil, “Our relationship is just as good as when we first met 15 years ago. His curiosity and dedication to the filmmaking process has helped him evolve from being a mere stuntman into the star that he is today.”
Prachya's interview is more extensive than Panna's, but both are well worth reading.
The Udine fest has a special program, "Kicks of Fury -- New Muay Thai Films", which features recent Thai martial-arts films, among them Ong-Bak 2 (making its European premiere), Chocolate and a third action film from the Sahamongkol stable, Somtum, which features kid-fighter Kat Sasisa, who made her debut in Panna's Born to Fight and was recently featured in Power Kids, as well as guest appearances by Dan Chupong (Born to Fight, Dynamite Warrior, Queens of Langkasuka, Ong-Bak 3) and another female brawler, "Nui" Kessarin Ektawatkul (Born to Fight, Dangerous Flowers).
Given that Sahamongkol's talent pool runs deeper than just Tony Jaa and Jeeja, I can see the seven female fighters as a distinct possibility, and I have my own personal wish list of who I'd like to see in it. But how many years is it going to take to train everyone and then start filming?
Update: Actual photos of Panna and Prachya in Udine are at Frederic Ambroisine's blog. (Via Kung Fu Fridays)
(Via Far East Film the Blog; photo of Prachya and Panna via Flickr from Chocolate premiere in Bangkok in 2008.)