Tony Jaa is a Thai actor from Surin. He was born on February 5th of 1976 with the name of Japan Yeerum. He’s known for being one of the biggest Asian stars when it comes to martial arts and action films. However, he’s actually a real Muay Thai, Muay Boran, Wushu, Tae Kwondo and Judo fighter.
This martial art education gave him the opportunity to start in big action movies, from which he has made a name for himself as one of the biggest stars in Thailand.
His career as an actor was inspired by the great movies of old movie fighters like Bruce lee, Jackie Chan and Jet li. Since he was a kid, his desire for being in action movies was the main factor to make him eventually study Physical Education in the Khon Kaen College. Then, he eventually became a trainee in the most important Asian martial arts, so he could become what he always wanted – an action figure like his idols.
His first movie was “Panna Rittikrai”, for which he played as a stunt actor. Thanks to his performance and eventually singular way of acting, many people liked him and offered him more roles in other movies, like Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. However, his first main film in a prime role was Ong-Bak, from which he made a name for himself and is today known as one of the greatest martial arts actors from Asia.
He also starred in the movie Tom Yum Goong, where he also played a martial arts expert who the main purpose was to kick asses. At this moment, Japanom was already a big star in Thailand and the world.
Even though he was mainly named Japanom, he adopted the name of Tony Jaa for his artist performances. This gave him more renounced and even more recognition, maybe an advice someone gave him to win more range in the industry. This name helped him to eventually be known across the world, where he eventually got a lot of opportunities.
After his first two greatest movies, “Tom Yum Goong” and “Ong-Bak” as an actor, he decided to go a little further and try directing and writing. In 2007 he decided to start filming “Ong-Bak 2”, a movie he wrote by himself and tried to direct as well, without mentioning that he was already the lead actor. But as an amateur, his work wasn’t as liked as his previous Ong-Bak movie, even though a lot of people praised him for taking risks not many directors and writers in the industry take.
After that, he made another Ong-Bak movie, also written and directed by himself, and as If weren’t enough – he was the main actor as well. This gave him so much recognition and appraisal from critics and people in the industry that he was super famous internationally, even though the movie wasn’t as great as he wanted it to be.
After finishing the third Ong-Bak movie, he decided to take a time off the movie industry and went to make of himself a Buuda Monk. However, 2 years later in 2012 he came back to the industry, getting a big role in one of the most famous action sagas in the world “The Fast and the Furious”, exactly in the movie number 7 of the saga “Furious 7”, in which he played Kiet, a side character who was a martial expert.
In his return to the film industry, he was invited to several big productions around the world, like Never Back Down in 2016 and xXx: Return of Xander Cage in 2017 which is his latest work as an actor. However, he’s already in the production and filming of other movies, both internationally and Thai movies each.
The Survival of Martial Arts in Movies
Jaa is easily one of the most famous martial art actors in the world. This is due to his great ability in various types of fighting plus his wonderful performance in movies as an actor that give him a lot of appraisals, with a charisma that not many Asian actors are able to develop.
However, his main skill is not using any kind of wire work or CG effects in the stunts he does, thanks to his abilities in Muay Thai, Tae Kwon do, gymnastics, swordplay and even Judo. Making him one of the skilled actors in the industry, alongside other wonderful names like Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee and Jey Li.
But what really make him one of the best is his incredible type of action mastery which he offers in every one of his movies. He gives that sense of action and martial art love movies like Enter The Dragon from Bruce Lee inspired to the audience. You can easily see how important martial arts are for him, and how much effort he puts in every one of his movies.
This makes him one of the last survivors of the martial art fighting genre, a type of acting that is almost extinct, but that Tony Jaa, thanks to his wonderful performances still gives a sense that is long surviving further in this world.
He’s just simply the reincarnation of the best fighters alongside the best talent in the action genre from his country. Something that makes him a wonderful actor in the industry.