I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Tony Jaa rides his elephant off into the sunset?

ongbak2Well, if you haven’t heard already, it’s being reported that a couple days ago Tony Jaa literally shaved his head, rode an elephant up to a Buddhist temple and took his vows to become a monk. The most complete article on the matter is at twitch.

Nobody knows how long he’ll be a monk or if he’ll ever come back. If you remember, he had a breakdown while directing ONG BAK 2 and ran off into the jungle for two months. Twitch speculates this might be part of him getting out of the shitty deal he was stuck in after that fiasco. But I imagine this is probly better for his mental health than the Thai film industry. I bet it’s good for him.

Whatever happens, this only adds to the legend of Tony Jaa. What more could be done with his onscreen persona is debatable, but he clearly was the biggest martial arts sensation of our age and created some of the best fight scenes and stunts put on film to date. I think this is more likely the Elvis-joining-the-army of his career than the end of it. But if it’s the end it’s pretty incredible for him to willingly leave it at 5 starring roles, about the same number as Bruce Lee.

To me the sad part of the article is what it says about ONG BAK 3 being shitty. I hadn’t heard about that. (or the rumor that he sacrificed chickens on the set of part 2. Well, I don’t condone animal sacrifice but if it keeps him from coming to Hollywood and making THE TUXEDO 2 I’m not gonna complain.)

By the way, I hope somebody took the elephant home and is gonna feed it. It would suck if he left it tied up outside the temple the whole time he’s there.

. . .

thanks to Jennifer K. and Jamie H. for tipping me off to this one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, May 31st, 2010 at 11:37 am and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

23 Responses to “Tony Jaa rides his elephant off into the sunset?”

  1. It’s also similar to Bruce Lee that there are literally thousands of better movies than anything Lee or Tony Jaa made. Jaa’s movies are a bit on the overrated side, imo.

  2. a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do.

    hope the elephant is alright though

  3. To clarify, in the martial arts genre of film.

  4. “likely the Elvis-joining-the-army of his career ”

    Vern – damn dude I know you’re trying to be optimistic here, but that metaphor has the reversal connotation for me. I mean I think would agree that “kickass” Elvis fo the early years got “castrated”* by the Army, and post-Army Elvis sang way too many mediocre bullshit records either because the money was too good, or he didn’t give a shit. Or both.

    So if Jaa does return, I want him fully dedicated to kickass on the cellouid. don’t just do a silly buddy cop comedy or a kiddie comedy, or else you might as well stay in that temple, practicing martial arts on invading hordes of rats and dust.

    *=Lennon’s wording, but he was right.

  5. I think Jaa was watching “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” and figured that he’d better do a bunch of crazy shit in real life so his eventual biopic wouldn’t have him fighting demons and stuff.

    It might end up being a pretty good plan.

  6. You know what this is? This is like when Rambo went to work at the monastery in between First Blood 2 and Rambo III. A few years from now Panna Rittikrai will find him stick-fighting for money. He’ll tell Jaa that he needs him for one last movie, but Jaa will turn him down. Then Rittikrai will get captured by some Thai film industry gangsters and Jaa will have to come out of retirement to rescue him.

    Basically, I’m agreeing that ELEPHANT: THE TONY JAA STORY is going to be the best biopic ever.

  7. What do you think he was doing in that jungle for two months? Not fight demons?

  8. Lawrence, I agree that most of their films are not at the top of the list but both Jaa and Lee made their movies better just by being in them. Their movies vary in quality, but the constant was them, their style and onscreen presence, which elevates the material. Jaa just sounds like he needs a director, he’s bitten off more then he can chew and is freaking out about it.

  9. I’ve never bought that whole “The Army Destroyed Elvis” meme, popularized by John Lennon (and let’s not forget that, as a human being, Lennon was a complete piece of shit and Imagine was out-dated, silly hippy garbage even at the time of its release). If Elvis was castrated by anything, it was probably those fucking dumbass movies he had to make. If you look at old footage, he actually seems way happier to be in the army than he does in Hollywood.

  10. intriguing…
    i’m interested to see where this goes. and now i’m really anxious for Ong Bak 3.

  11. What’s gonna happen though if some assholes steal a statue head from the temple he’s at?

  12. I don’t think Ong Bak 3 will be bad. I think on a lot of these sites Part 2 was not well regarded either. They just tend to be snobbish when it comes to action movies.

  13. WS – Well most of that bullshit post-Army music Elvis did was for those dumbass movies, so we do agree. But why did he keep doing them if indeed he wasn’t that happy? That I’ve never understood.

    Or to put it another way, when did he make most of his best stuff? Before or after Army? I mean after army sure he did a few cool ones like “Suspicious Minds” (last American #1 single) and “American Trilogy” and some good covers, but otherwise…pre-Army wins with the piledriver.

    As for “silly outdated hippie garbage”….that slap fits “Power to the People” much better if you ask me. Shit even armed hippie Hunter S. Thompson said it as much. Lennon was a great special talent, the size which only matched by his insecure ego.

  14. This looks like a breakdown Dave Chapelle style. It’s pretty sad.

  15. Jareth Cutestory

    May 31st, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I guess it’s time for Dirty Balls to step up to the plate and fill the void.

  16. @sebastien: jesus christ dude. being famous is probably really fucked up on a daily basis.
    people need alone time, and since us nobodies have such an abundance of that we can’t imagine how suffocating fame might be. i’m not crying “poor celebrity” or anything, just that we don’t have to treat them like mental patients when they decide to take a break.

  17. I’m happy to hear that Buddhists can be as nutty as some Christians

  18. Hahahaha… Majestyk… too good man. Everyone in my office block is lookin at me wondering what the hell i’m laughing at.

  19. Speaking of underwhelming Thai martial arts films, has anyone else seen Raging Pheonix with Jija Yanin from CHOCOLATE? It’s got some good fights, but it’s lacking in story and is really way too po-faced for a movie about masters of drunken kung fu. It was cool having a female lead villain who could kick the supporting male heroes’ asses though, so points for that.

  20. Jareth Cutestory

    June 1st, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Stu: That’s the movie I’m looking forward to the most this year. After reading a few mixed reviews, I’m simply hoping that the drop off in quality between CHOCOLATE and RAGING PHEONIX isn’t as bad as the drop between the two
    ONG BAKs.

    And I think that all the weaker Jet Li and Jackie Chan films that I’ve sat through over the years have removed once and for all my expectation for a good story.

  21. The thing is, it’s not that it’s even a generic story or anything, because even that can service the action, like how in Tom Yum Goong it’s about Tony’s character being on the trail of the elephant poachers, and it takes him to all sorts of places fighting all sorts of people, whereas in RP, it’s not even got that. It feels like they’ve only got 4 or 5 locations in the whole thing, and most of it seems to be set where the heroes live and it meanders a bit in the middle and introduces a pointless twist that gets undone like 2 minutes later, and has these flashbacks and scenes of characters moping and looking out at the sea while drinking that feels like padding. And you know how in his review for Born to Fight, Vern talks about how despite the goofy premise, the film is really harrowing and brutal? Well there’s some laughs early on, but at some point it switches up to Born to Fight-like tone, only without the awesome, ridiculous spectacle of soccer players and pole vaulters beating up terrorists.

  22. Jareth Cutestory

    June 2nd, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    For as long as I’m alive on this planet I’ll remember that dude with one leg in BORN TO FIGHT kicking terrorist ass. It’s insane.

  23. I agree with my boobed-up brethren on all points about RAGING PHOENIX, except I bloody loved it.

    I also enjoyed ONG BAK 3, though I must thank lowered expectations for this enjoyment. It is a trippy movie, with a “this isn’t really happening” alternate reality sequence at the very end that I quite appreciated.

    Over the years, like many of you fans of BADASS kung fu CINEMA, I’ve developed a filter to rid my viewing experience of the garbage & nonsense & wretched “comedy” parts of a Thai action movie’s script even as I watch the thing, and this filter came in handy during ONG BAK 3. The fighting’s not spectacular enough to merit an overall grade for the film better than “good” or, like, 6/10.

    Now I’m ready for ONG BAK 4: [insert PORT OF CALL something here].

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