Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hi-Jaa! Skin Trade opens in Thai cinemas

Well, no sign of an injunction.

And so the career rehabilitation of Thai action star Tony Jaa continues uninterrupted in Thailand, with today's release of Skin Trade, a gritty crime drama that has Jaa teaming up with Swedish bruiser Dolph Lundgren to go after human traffickers in Bangkok.

The movie comes hot off the success of the worldwide blockbuster Fast and Furious 7, which had Jaa making his Hollywood debut as a fearsome enemy operative who briefly trades blows and action-movie quips with hero Paul Walker. It's fun stuff. He's even mentioned in reviews.

But Skin Trade is Jaa's big star vehicle as he embarks on this new international phase of his career. The movie was developed with the help of Lundgren and Jaa's new manager, Bangkok-based businessman and movie producer Michael Selby.

It's directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, a filmmaker and theater director who has been celebrating some of his own success lately, with the nightly stage show Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives marking one year of drawing crowds to the tourist-ensnaring Asiatique the Riverside Bangkok. Ekachai previously won widespread acclaim for his work on the fact-based transgender drama Beautiful Boxer, which was a winning mix of Muay Thai action and art-house sensibilities. Not exactly an action-movie fan, he talks more about his work on Skin Trade and being initially shaken by the explosions in an article in The Nation.

Skin Trade has Jaa as a Thai policeman who teams up with a vengeance-seeking New York cop (Lundgren) to go after Serbian mobsters who are running a human-trafficking ring in Bangkok. A heavily accented Ron Perlman also stars, along with Celina Jade, Michael Jai White and Peter Weller.

The project is something Lundgren had been trying to produce for a long time. The fair-haired birch of an actor made his breakthrough as an imposing Russian boxer in Rocky IV and is among the cast of Stallone's Expendables movies. He met Jaa when the two were at work in Thailand on movie called A Man Will Rise, which was set up at Jaa's former studio, Sahamongkol Film. At the time, Jaa's career was going through a transition, and he decamped from A Man Will Rise amid a still-boiling contract dispute.

He set to work on Skin Trade after filming his scenes for Fast and Furious 7.

Sahamongkol, which contends that Jaa has another 10-year contract to work off and owes them for the money they spent on the unfinished A Man Will Rise, had sought an injunction to block the release of Furious 7 in Thailand, and though that didn't work out for them, there was still a bit of concern they might try to pull a similar stunt to get Skin Trade banned.

Meanwhile, Jaa has another movie on the docket, the Hong Kong martial-arts drama Sha Po Leng II. A Thai release for that one is still in the works.

Check out the Thai trailer for Skin Trade, embedded below. The Thai title is Koo Sat Antarai (คู่ซัดอันตราย), which I'm guessing very roughly translates as A Dangerous Pair Accused. Maybe more-Thai-savvy readers can do a better job with that.

1 comment:

  1. Actually he signed and filmed SKIN TRADE before FAST 7.


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