Ask any martial arts fan who the best screen fighters of today are and it certainly won't take long until Tony Jaa's name gets mentioned. After working in supporting roles for a number of years Jaa exploded on the international scene when he first took the lead in Ong Bak, blowing minds with his obvious skill level and willingness to risk life and limb in a series of extreme stunts. Making Jaa even more impressive was his insistence that his fight work be all natural: he uses no wires, no CGI, it's all him. Though let down by a weak script Jaa's follow up role to Ong Bak - Tom Yum Goong, released in North America as The Protector - proved once again that Jaa is a simply huge talent.
And now comes Ong Bak 2, Jaa's third leading role and his directorial debut. The film has no story connection to the first Ong Bak, instead moving the narrative back in time and casting Jaa as a young man saved from execution by a group of global martial artists as a boy who has since trained in every one of their arts in an attempt to fuse them all into one master martial art. From a fight standpoint this is clearly Jaa's most diverse role to date and any fears that he wasn't ready to step behind the camera will disappear within the first couple shots. Clearly Jaa knows what he wants to do back there and the level of detail in the production design and the kinetic shooting style are both very impressive. More impressive? Seeing Jaa fight with weapons and using kung fu techniques on screen for the first time. And if you're thinking he's just faking the Chinese martial arts in this one, that's where you're wrong: Jaa's history with martial arts actually began with kung fu and he didn't pick up muay thai until his mentor, Panna Rittikrai, suggested he might want to play to the local audience a little more.
Anyway, enough of the background. You want the sales reel. The good people at Shamongkol have been kind enough to give us an exclusive first look at the English subtitled promo reel prepared to sell the film at this year's Marche du Film in Cannes. Strap in and get ready for three and a half minutes of non stop action. You'll find it below the break in the ScreenAnarchy Player.