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Tatchakorn Yeerum ( ; or formerly Panom Yeerum ( ; ) (born February 5, 1976 in Surin province, Isaan, Thailand), better known in the West as Tony Jaa, in Thailand as Jaa Panom, is a Thai martial artist, actor, choreographer, stuntman and director. His films include Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, Tom-Yum-Goong (also called Warrior King or The Protector) and Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning.

Early life

Tony Jaa is actually of Cambodian descent more known as Khmer Surin. A province that was once part of Cambodia but now Thailand.

Tony Jaa was raised in a rural area and as he grew up he watched films by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li at temple fairs, which was his inspiration to learn martial arts. He was so inspired by them that while he was doing chores or playing with friends, he would imitate the martial arts moves that he had seen, practicing in his father's rice paddy. Also, he would give baths to the family's elephants and somersault off their backs into the river.

"What they did was so beautiful, so heroic that I wanted to do it too," Jaa told Time in a 2004 interview. "I practiced until I could do the move exactly as I had seen the masters do it."

At age 15 he requested to become a protege of stuntman and action-film director Panna Rittikrai.Panna had instructed Jaa to attend Maha Sarakham College of Physical Education in Maha Sarakham Provincemarker.

Career

Stunt work

He initially worked as a stuntman on Panna's team, Muay Thai Stunt, appearing in many of Panna's films. He doubled for Sammo Hung when the martial-arts actor made a commercial for an energy drink that required him to grasp an elephant's tusks and somersault onto the elephant's back. He also appeared in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, as a stunt double for Robin Shou (Liu Kang), and was a stunt double in the Thai television series Insee Daeng (Red Eagle).

Acting

Together, Panna and Jaa developed an interest in Muay Boran, an ancient style of Muay Thai and worked and trained for 1 year at the art with the intention of developing a film around it. Eventually they were able to put together a short film showing what Jaa could do. One of the people they showed it to was producer-director Prachya Pinkaew, who was duly impressed.

This led to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior in 2003, Jaa's break-out role as a leading man. Jaa did all the stunts without mechanical assistance or computer-generated effects and it showcased his style of extreme acrobatics and speedy, dance-like moves. Injuries suffered in the filming included a ligament injury and a sprained ankle. One scene in the film involved fighting with another actor while his own trousers were on fire. "I actually got burned," he said in a 2005 interview. "I really had to concentrate because once my pants were on fire the flames spread upwards very fast and burnt my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my nose. Then we had to do a couple more takes to get it right.".

Tony Jaa and his mentor, Panna Rittikrai, check the playback on the Sydney, Australia location of Tom-Yum-Goong.
His second major movie was Tom-Yum-Goong ("The Protector" in the US), named after the Thai hot and sour soup of the same name.

In August 2006, he was in New York to promote the US release of The Protector, including an appearance at the Museum of the Moving Imagemarker.

Next projects

Sahamongkol Film International advertised that Tony Jaa's third film would be called Sword or Dab Atamas, about the art of Thai two-sword fighting, with a script by Prapas Chonsalanont. But due to a falling out between Prachya and Jaa, which neither have publicly commented on, Sword has been cancelled.

On March 2006 it was reported that there would be a sequel to Ong-Bak, Ong-Bak 2. With Jaa both directing and starring, it started pre-production in fall 2006 and was released in December of 2008.

While Jaa was working on Ong-Bak 2, director Prachya Pinkaew and action choreographer Panna Rittikrai were working on Chocolate, starring a female martial artist, Nicharee Vismistananda, and released February 6, 2008. Jaa had been cast in a small role in a third installment of the King Naresuan film series directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol, although the film was ultimately cancelled.

Other developments

His films captured the attention of his hero, Jackie Chan, who asked director Brett Ratner to cast Jaa in Rush Hour 3. "I gave the director videos of Tony Jaa because I think Tony Jaa is the most well-rounded of all action stars," Chan told the Associated Press. "The director liked him a lot," Chan said. However, Jaa said he'd be unable to participate because of scheduling conflicts with the shooting of Ong Bak 2.

Additionally, veteran Hong Kong martial arts coordinator Lau Kar-leung has mentioned Jaa as someone he'd like to work with.
Tony Jaa demonstrates martial arts at the American Museum of the Moving Image on August 20, 2006, during a promotional tour for The Protector.


Filmography



Early films



Non-leading films (Cameos)



See also



References



External links



Interviews



Videos




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