You know that analogy people use when something is so
horrifying that you can’t close your eyes?
The one about the train wreck and wanting to look away but can’t because
your curiosity got the best of you?
Well, as of late, I’ve been feeling like that when it pertains to the
peculiar story unfolding out of Thailand about Tony Jaa’s next picture.
Over the past couple of weeks, news broke out on a number of
websites (click here and here for the best articles on the matter) that Jaa’s
sequel to his Muay Thai epic Ong Bak was in trouble due to the bizarre
behavior the actor was exhibiting.
Normally, the odd behavior of an actor isn’t something new or all that
shocking. But when the actor is also
the director, with a ballooning budget and shooting schedule, then you’ve got a
I’m not going to go into details about what exactly has been
going on the set of Ong Bak 2 or Jaa’s increasingly erratic behavior because
it would be like beating a dead horse.
Besides, the aforementioned links do a great job at bringing you up to
speed. What intrigues me about this
whole situation is that we are either witnessing the deconstruction of an
action phenom before he can even reach his prime or there is something much more
interesting happening behind the scenes.
Being billed as the next Bruce Lee would put pressure on
anybody. After Ong Bak made a splash
on screens, Jaa quickly became a name to look out for in the action genre. Here was a young man who bled charisma on
screen and had the skill to rival Bruce Lee.
Not to mention the fact that he had the almost supernatural ability to
make even the most heavy-handed lines of dialogue sound natural and
believable. He transcended the language
barrier, which very few foreign performers can do. For once, the praise was warranted. And of course, Hollywood came calling. But Jaa, proud performer that he is, decided to stay in his
native Thailand and work on a couple of more pictures before making his way to
When he took the reigns to work on Ong Bak 2, that’s where
everything fell apart. Which leads us
to where we are now. Are we truly
witnessing a career dissolve right before our very eyes? I don’t think so. As bizarre as the story is, it’s making waves throughout the
online film community. Yes, in Thailand
such behavior is looked at under a more critical (some may say even negative)
eye. And rightly so, because it is
putting the film, as well as the cast and crew at risk. But, to be quite honest, I wasn’t interested
in seeing this film until I heard about all the controversy. Controversy sells. It’s a cliché because it’s true.
It’s tragic that we are watching a movie star fall from grace, but for
some reason I think there is more happening behind the scenes to make all of
this completely true. Disappearances
into the forest, practicing black magic for long periods of time, being
followed by strange men, crying on national television, threatening to
disappear and never return if demands aren’t met. This sounds like a movie in and of itself. Of course, this may all be true; and if it
is… wow, I don’t know what to say. But
for whatever reason, this smells like some of the best marketing a studio could
ask for, real or otherwise. I’m not
saying it was premeditated. What I am
saying is that, to the most twisted of mind (such as my own), it can be seen as
a selling tool for the film.
I’m sure Jaa’s career may be dead in Thailand as a result of
this. But I wouldn’t be surprised if
there is a producer somewhere in LA frothing at the mouth to pick up the film
or sign Jaa to a multi-million dollar contract. And I would pay good money to see this man in action. I’m a sucker for a good ol’ bizarro story
and this is one for the books. I don’t
want to come off insincere to Jaa’s plight, because if this is all true, he
better make his way over to the states pronto.
This is the type of stuff that sells tickets and makes names.
And yes, the past couple of sentences were infused with
That just goes to show you what kind of society we live
in. But I’m not going to preach about
it, because I fall in that group as well.
When I see train wreck happen in slow motion, I will watch with my
undivided attention so I can see every detail as it happens. And that is what I’m doing right now. It’s too early to tell whether or not Jaa
(and the film, for that matter) will come out of this situation unscathed, but
one thing is for sure- for better or worse, Jaa is becoming less of an action
star and becoming more and more or a movie star. Let’s hope he can come out of this experience and show the world
what he is truly capable of. While
being compared to Bruce Lee is a daunting compliment, it is also one that is
made out of respect for one’s talent and ability to entertain.