Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Tony Jaa to direct Ong-Bak 2

When he says "Action!", he really means it.

Tony Jaa will direct Ong-Bak 2, reports the Soopsip column in today's Nation, which confirms rumors that have been floating about for the past several weeks.

Filming is expected to start sometime soon, if not already.

Prachya Pinkaew, who helmed Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong, will produce Ong-Bak 2. And Jaa's mentor, action choreographer Panna Rittikrai will still be involved.

The confirmation that Ong-Bak 2 will be Jaa's next feature comes after months of speculation, with the 30-year-old action star's name being tied to a sword-fighting yarn called Daab Atamas and a historical epic called Phraya Phichai, not to mention some high-profile Hollywood projects. Variety even reported Jaa making something called Man of a Thousand Poisons.

"I'm tied up doing my movie right now and the script for Daab isn’t finished yet so [Jaa] asked about being director on the project," Prachya was quoted as saying in Soopsip. He's working on a children's film another project right now, called Chocolate. "The time was right so we agreed."

It appears Ong-Bak 2 is just a working title, and that if the name sticks, it will be a sequel in name only, and will probably not have anything to do with the first film's story of a young man from a poor village named Ting who must fight bad guys to retrieve the stolen head of his village's Buddha image.

"We decided to use the title Ong-Bak 2 because it's immediately recognized wherever we go," Prachya said. "In some countries, the film Tom Yum Goong is called Ong-Bak 2."

Details about the story in Ong-Bak 2 are sketchy for the moment. It had earlier been reported that the film is about "a young man on a journey that teaches him the skills and inner meaning of martial arts."

"It's definitely an action movie and the story is inspired by khon dance," Prachya told Soopsip.

Ong-Bak 2 has already whipped up loads of interest. The Weinstein Company has already purchased the worldwide rights to the film, excluding Asia and the UK.

Meanwhile, if I understand Soopsip correctly, Dab Atamas, or simply Sword, is by no means a dead project. The screenplay is being written by acclaimed writer Prapas Chonsalanon and shooting is expected to start later this year after Prachya finishes Chocolate.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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