Reports are surfacing from Thailand that celebrated martial arts choreographer and film director Panna Ritthikrai has died from liver disease, aged 53.
Ritthikrai is probably best known for his work with action star Tony Jaa in films such as the Ong-Bak and Tom Yum Goong series, but he also directed a number of features including The Bodyguard and the fantastic olympian-actioner Born to Fight. He was an integral player in the new wave of Thai action cinema that took the world by storm at the start of the 21st century, and continued to be a pivotal force until the very end.
Gareth Evans, director of Indonesian action flick The Raid, tweeted earlier today "What Panna and Jaa did w/ Ong Bak revitalised martial arts cinema. The importance of that film on the genre is huge."
Ritthikrai's most recent credit is as Action Co-ordinator on the as-yet unreleased A Man Will Rise, starring Tony Jaa and Dolph Lundgren. He will be sorely missed.
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