Tony Jaa is taking another very big step towards reclaiming his position as the top martial arts screen fighter in the world. And this one is more than a little bit surprising on a great number of levels.We brought word earlier this month of a new Hong Kong based project
that would match Jaa with fight choreographer Sammo Hung and now Thailand's Sahamongkol Film have announced that Jaa will reunite with director Prachya Pinkaew and fight choreographer Panna Rittikrai for Tom Yum Goong 2
Missing elephant jokes aside, this is big news for Jaa with the original Tom Yum Goong
- released as The Protector
in North America - marking both his last true hit and the beginnings of his troubles. It was immediately after Tom Yum Goong
that Jaa essentially declared Pinkaew unnecessary and unwanted, announcing that he would direct his next film himself. Pinkaew was deeply insulted and the relationship between the star and the director who built his career degraded to the point where they weren't even on speaking terms. Pinkaew would go on to groom Jija Yanin in Chocolate
while Jaa would crumble badly under the pressure of directing Ong Bak 2
himself, eventually losing control of the badly over budget and over schedule project.
But Tom Yum Goong 2
will reunite the entire Tom Yum Goong
/ Ong Bak
team with Jaa in the lead, Pinkaew directing, Rittikrai handling fight choreography and Chocolate
star Jija Yanin also handed a significant role - the first time Jaa has ever shared the stage with another marquee fighter. Like the upcoming Chocolate 2
, this film will be shot in digital 3D.
The big surprises in this are twofold. First, Jaa and Pinkaew have patched things up and are working together again. This can only be viewed as a good thing because, frankly, neither has been as good without the other. The bigger surprise, though, is that Jaa is once again in the Sahamongkol fold, which I would never, ever have expected to happen. Jaa's original ten year contract with the company will have expired before this film goes in to production, meaning that they have struck a new deal. Consider that at the peak of the Ong Bak 2
debacle Jaa took refuge in a police station claiming that the studio had sent gangsters after him and, well ... the prospect of the star willingly signing up with the studio again seemed unlikely to say the least. Whether there was any basis to the gangster story isn't even the point - if Jaa believed there was enough truth to it that he sought police protection that says something about how incredibly bad the situation between star and company had gotten and I'm amazed that they've gotten back together.
Pinkaew's Chocolate 2
is scheduled to go in to production in May and will need to be completed before this can begin, so don't expect Tom Yum Goong 2
any time soon. But fans should be happy to know it's coming.