|Better not let your elephant see you tinkling those ivories. Via Tony Jaa Official Facebook page|
This is another installment of the occasional feature of this blog that catches up on news of Tony Jaa.
Tony Jaa recently wrapped a globetrot that took him to Hollywood, where he schmoozed with celebrities, and to Switzerland, where he performed handstands in a ritzy hotel lobby.
After a brief stop back home in Thailand, he jetted off again to start production on his Hong Kong action debut, SPL II, which will see him clashing with Wu Jing. Pou-Soi Cheang directs this sequel-in-name-only to 2005's SPL, which was directed by Wilson Yip, who's now producing. Original SPL leading man Simon Yam also stars.
You can follow all of Jaa's moves on his official Facebook page.
Meanwhile, Tom-Yum-Goong 2 opened over the weekend in select U.S. cinemas as The Protector 2. Reviews aren't pretty. They include the New York Times, Village Voice, New York Daily News, the AV Club and The Hollywood Reporter. A number of them say it's his "comeback" following his controversial "meltdown" during filming of Ong-Bak 2 and Ong-Bak 3, but really it's his swansong with studio Sahamongkol, which he left in the midst of making TYG2 during a contract dispute.
Now he's on to the next phase of his career, as an international action star and man of mystery.
Still, Sahamongkol is wringing Tom-Yum-Goong 2 for all it's worth, with a "wide release" recently in China – some 2,500 screens, the biggest yet for a Thai film. The Nation's Soopsip had more details about that, including a red-carpet appearance by Jaa's co-stars, Jeeja Yanin and Rhatha Pho-ngam.
A Blu-ray release for The Protector 2 is set for July 29.
Finally, it's the early 2000s again as Tony Jaa gets a mention in the newly reconstituted Kaiju Shakedown, the blog by Asian film raconteur Grady Hendrix. Now at home at Film Comment, Hendrix looks back at all the main figures of Thai cinema's boom days of the late '90s and early aughts, wondering "where are they now?"
Jaa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Ekachai Uekrongtham, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Chookiat Sakveerakul and Nonzee Nimibutr – they've all been right here, steadily working. Just one of the stalwarts of the New Thai Cinema Movement mentioned – Wisit Sasanatieng – has faded from view. Perhaps Wisit could get his long-gestating Muay Thai biopic Suriya out of development hell with help from Jaa and a host of international backers?
|Rhatha Pho-ngam and Jeeja Yanin on the Beijing film fest red carpet for the Chinese premiere of Tom-Yum-Goong 2.|