Monday, November 22, 2004

Spicy soup in Australia

News from Sydney, where the Ong Bak followup, Tom Yum Goong is being shot.

While its story's centrepiece is a poached elephant now residing in Sydney, the film's real star is Tony Jaa, reports showbiz editor Michael Bodey.

Jaa's phenomenal martial arts skills and boyish good looks already have producers salivating that they've found the next Bruce Lee.

Given the standard of the Thai film industry, Jaa admits starring in a film shot in Australia is unthinkable.

"It's way beyond my dreams," he said.

Also part of the cast of the film is hulky Australian actor Nathan Jones, who played the gigantic Boagrius in Troy alongside Brad Pitt.

The film's substantial budget dwarfs that for most Australian films and it was raised almost entirely on the strength of Jaa's outrageous skills and bright future, as first displayed in his previous hit film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which opens in Australia in March.

Director Prachya Pinkaew said there was one major reason to film in Sydney beyond the obvious success of international films shot here such as The Matrix and Mission Impossible 2.

"Australia is a place that is a symbol of wildlife and animal preservation from my point of view," he said.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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