Friday, December 1, 2006

Spiritual warrior

After touring the U.S. to promote Tom-Yum-Goong (or The Protector), Tony Jaa is back in Thailand.

After some time meditating at a jungle temple, he's spiritually revived and ready to get down to the work of directing Ong Bak 2, reports Parinyaporn Payee in The Nation yesterday.

The story of Ong-Bak 2 is based on Ai Noom Saraphad Phid, a low-budget film he made years ago with mentor and martial arts choreographer Panna Rittikrai. Intended as an audition screener for Sahamongkol Films, the film was never shown because film stock they used was expired. The title translates to "man with poison", and is about a man who has two conflicting sides. He lets the dark side rule over him until he "discovers the beauty of khon" (Thai masked dance) and is able to transform his powers for the good. Shooting will start in earnest in January with the film's release late in 2007.

Parinyaporn caught up with Tony at a "khrob khru" ceremony, in which khon students pay tribute to their teachers. Earlier this year Tony collaborated with national artist and dancer Pichet Klunchun on a khon-inspired dance that was performed at the Subhanahongsa Awards. Since then, Tony's been looking for ways to incorporate the sacred, traditional dance into his martial arts routines, so audiences can expect Ong-Bak 2 to show more of that influence.

Present at the ceremony was Sahamongkol Films exec Somsak Techaratanaprasert, and noticeably absent was Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong director Prachya Pinkaew. The Nation hints at rumors of a split between Tony and the Baa Ram Ewe production company head, though "Tony clams up" at any mention of it.

It goes on to mention a new production company set up by Tony, Iyara Films, will be producing the next project, Dab Atamat (Sword), which is still in script development.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)