All this time, I thought the stories of magic, of faceless henchmen and symbolic elephants in Tony Jaa movies were the just wacky tenets of Thai action films. But the more I read about the actual Tony Jaa, the more I wonder if the plots of his movies aren’t actually just torn from the headlines, like the Thai Law & Order.
Tony Jaa has exited the film industry. We don’t know for how long and can only speculate on the reasons why but yesterday – Friday, May 28 – Jaa rode an elephant to a Buddhist temple in Surin, Thailand, where he shaved his head, took vows, and was officially ordained as a Buddhist monk. [Twitch]
That’s right, he rode an elephant. If you’ll remember, Tony Jaa campaigned to be allowed to direct Ong Bak 2. After delays and rumors that he’d sacrifice chickens before shooting, he cracked under the pressure and disappeared for two full months to meditate in the jungle, where some said he was “practicing black magic in Cambodia.” He was later lured back out, and demanded to be let out of his contract with the studio. At which point he disappeared in a car full of studio goons, and eventually turned up seeking refuge in a police station. Whatever happened, he dropped his demands and agreed to split Ong Bak 2 into Ong Bak 2 and 3, with someone else directing. And now that both of those are done, he’s apparently sworn off movie violence again.
It’s pretty obvious what needs to happen here. A beautiful woman must trek many miles into the jungle to an isolated monastery. There, she’ll seek out a monk. The monk will deny that he’s Tony Jaa. “I know of no one by that name,” he’ll say. But the woman will persist. “Please,” the woman will say, “you are my only hope. An evil man has kidnapped my father and stolen the sacred trinkets of my village. They tell me you’re the best….”