As 2014 approaches, the coming New Year will see Thai action star Tony Jaa will make his Hollywood and Hong Kong debuts side-by-side. Already hard at work on “Fast and Furious 7”, Jaa has just signed on to appear in the upcoming sequel to Donnie Yen’s 2005 hit “Sha Po Lang”. The film was released in English-speaking territories with the title “Kill Zone”, and served as one of the major catalysts for Yen’s current reign as Hong Kong’s biggest action hero. Jaa will appear alongside Wu Jing, one of the principal evildoers of the original film. Here’s the official word:
“Tony Jaa has signed to star in SPL II which is being produced by Sun Entertainment Culture Limited. The film stars Tony and Legendary Assassin star Jackie Wu (Wu Jing), who probably has the fastest spinning back kick on planet earth.
Jaa is thrilled to be part of this film, and you can expect some surprise appearances in the film. The action choreography is being handled by Dion Lam who was heavily involved in the stunt work on Spider Man 2. Wilson Yip remains very much involved with Terrence Cheung in the director’s chair. The film while targeted towards the China and Asian markets will also be released in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East. The collaboration represents a breakthrough effort in Chinese film making between a non-Chinese action star and an all star Chinese line up. The film will be shot in Thailand, China and Hong Kong. The story is an action/drama that should keep the audience very much on the edge of their seats.
Sun Entertainment will release more complete information shortly, and will update on a regular basis. Shooting begins in early Spring of 2014.”
Tony Jaa seems poised to make a major comeback in the new year. After blowing action fans expectations out of the water with “Ong Bak”, he upped his game a few years later with “Tom Yum Goong”, and was ready to make his magnum opus with “Ong Bak 2”, which despite it’s title, served as a prequel to the original film. The film marked Jaa’s directorial debut, which he envisioned as a spectacular martial arts epic showcasing a variety of combat styles that his character would merge to make himself into the mightiest warrior to ever live. However, numerous setbacks led to the film being divided into two parts, with the latter receiving lackluster reception from fans. Following the two films release, Jaa spent several months as a Buddhist monk in a Surin monastery, before returning to the world of martial arts films with the recently released “Tom Yum Goong 2”, and the upcoming “A Man Will Rise”, opposite Dolph Lundgren.
Personally, I find “Ong Bak 3” to be underrated, and Tony Jaa’s Hollywood debut has certainly been a long time coming! He’s shown the same passion, ingenuity, and diversity as his mentor, Panna Rittikrai, in his approach to choreographing the action of each film he’s made, going from the ancient art of Muay Boran in “Ong Bak” to an elephant influenced variant in “Tom Yum Goong” to blending a half-dozen martial arts into a style all his own in the “Ong Bak” prequels. Some promotional clips from “Tom Yum Goong 2” have even shown him making use of the much debated art of Jailhouse rock aka 52 Blocks. For any self-respecting martial arts fan, seeing Tony Jaa make the leap to both Hollywood and Hong Kong, and seeing him do so in the same year, this is the very definition of leaving us on pins and needles!