One of Thailand’s biggest stars is Tony Jaa. You know him best for his roles in Ong-Bak and then, everything thereafter. Jaa was a stuntman first but developed an interest in Muay Boran, which was a kind of Muay Thai. That along with his stunt work together made for a never-before-seen cinematic marvel.
“Born Phanom Yeerum, Tony Jaa is one of Thailand’s most decorated and colorful sensations. His illustrious background includes accolades like being a Thai martial artist, action choreographer, stuntman, director, actor, and Buddhist monk. Hailing from rural Thailand, Jaa closely studied the films of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li when they were shown at local temple fairs.
At age 15, he became the protégé to stuntman and action film director Panna Rittikrai, training relentlessly for years before landing his breakout role in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. He continued to be a staple in Thai action movies until his story came full circle and caught the eye of Jackie Chan, who cast Jaa in Rush Hour 3. More recently, he’s starred opposite Vin Diesel in Furious 7 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, along with the 2017 hit Triple Threat with Scott Adkins.”
Jaa transitioned from strictly Muay Thai to an evolved form of it and it made him an international star. But, Muay Thai was the base for all of it.