By: John M Jerva
Update: With the news dropping today that Thai martial arts star Tony Jaa is set to lead a new action franchise, we now have the official press release below!
Peter Luo’s Starlight has set Thai martial arts / action star Tony Jaa (Furious 7, xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Kill Zone 2) for the lead role in the action/crime/thriller trilogy – an Untitled Tony Jaa Assassin Project.
In the first installment of what will be a three-picture franchise, Jaa will play a legendary assassin who disappeared three years ago and becomes the target of all criminal organizations and law enforcement agencies. The story will unfold in an unconventional structure packed with thrilling action and suspense. As the manhunt accelerates, the mystery of the assassin’s identity is slowly unraveled. In this franchise, as layers of truth are revealed one by one, the end game will come into sight for audiences.
An advocate for bringing Asian culture to Hollywood, Starlight CEO Peter Luo operates out of the company’s offices in Beverly Hills, and has brokered content deals with prominent filmmakers such as Robert Zemeckis, Sam Raimi, Sylvester Stallone, James Wan, F. Gary Gray, Roland Emmerich, and Jon M. Chu.
The company’s newest program (‘Stars Collective’) helps to promote the next generation of diverse voices and creative storytellers, and really accelerate the female power movement. The ‘Stars Collective’ program supports up to 50 emerging filmmakers, paving the way for new aesthetics driven by top young creative talent and powerful female voices.
Upcoming films for Starlight include the supernatural horror film “UMMA” for Sony Pictures, which is a Starlight collaboration with Sam Rami, and stars Sandra Oh; “Golden Empire,” starring Donnie Yen as the world’s most successful multinational drug lord; and the powerful COVID-19 documentary feature titled “Wuhan Wuhan”, produced by Academy Award®-winnerDonna Gigliotti, Donnie Yen, Academy Award®-nominee Diane Moy Quon, and SA Inc.
Original Post: Fans of Tony Jaa unite as word has come via Deadline that the international action Star who will be seen next in Monster Hunter this December is ready to headline a new assassin action film trilogy from Starlight Entertainment. The films will be English language and the plot line is said to unfold over the three film arc.
Per Deadline: In the first installment of what is hoped will be a three-picture franchise, Muay Thai master Jaa will play a legendary assassin who disappeared three years ago and becomes the target of all criminal organizations and law enforcement agencies. According to producers, the story will unfold in an unconventional structure and as the manhunt accelerates, the mystery of the assassin’s identity is slowly unraveled.
Peter Luo (Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark), Jaa, and Mike Selby (Triple Threat) will produce the films which do not have a title as of yet and Starlight will be financing the films.
“Tony is the perfect artist to lead this fast moving, adrenaline rush of a movie, where the physical demands match the traditional leading man visceral performance needs. He’ll be able to demonstrate his full, and extremely impressive, repertoire of skills to elevate this story, which will have inherent cross-border appeal globally,” Starlight CEO Luo said in a statement and Lupo is the one who created the franchise specifically for Jaa and his unique brand of action.
This sounds like a very exciting project and here’s hoping that Jaa will be used to his full potential. A director is yet to be named and lets hope they get one deserving and knows action and Jaa’s strengths. The first movie is expected to roll in front of the cameras sometime in 2021.
About Tony Jaa
A Muay Thai master whose formidable martial arts skills have dazzled action lovers in such films as Ong Bak and Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector), Tony Jaa was first inspired to take up fighting when, at the age of 15, he first saw director Panna Rittikrai’s classic action film Born to Fight. A breathtaking martial arts masterpiece that proved to Jaa there were indeed opportunities for a young action star in Thailand, Born to Fightwould inspire the impressionable viewer to begin training harder than ever before. Nicknamed Tony Jaa by Ong Bak director Prachya Pinkaew (the “T” in Tony stands for Thailand, and the “Jaa” is the actor’s Thai nickname), the talented martial artist is widely known in his native Thailand by the name Jaa Panom.
A native of the rural Surin province, Jaa took a cue from his Muay Thai-boxer father and began training at the age of ten. It was shortly thereafter that a Jackie Chan movie prompted young Jaa to begin a rigorous training regiment that would instill him with the deadly dexterity of his cinematic idol, with a subsequent, junior-high-school viewing of Born to Fight offering a vivid vision of a future in film. Granted permission by his father to seek out Rittikrai and ask permission to become the filmmaker’s student, Jaa traveled to the nearby Khon Kaen province to meet the man who could make all of his dreams come true. It was over the course of the next three years that Jaa truly immersed himself in the film industry, rapidly rising through the ranks from water boy to best boy while constantly practicing martial arts during his down time. When Jaa graduated from senior high and Rittikrai recommended that the rising star refine his skills at the University of Physical Education in Sarakam Province; a stint studying Taekwondo, Bushido, Ju-Jitsu, gymnastics, and stick- and sword- fighting at the school provided just the kind of well-rounded education needed to expand his skills and take his career to the next level. Weekend training sessions with Rithikrai soon convinced the veteran and star that his young protégé had the skills to truly shine on the big screen, with an invitation to join Rithikrai’s skilled stunt team offering Jaa the irresistible opportunity to finally merge theartistry of film with the beauty of martial arts.
His eye-popping fusion of gymnastics and Muay Thai boxing resulted in the formation of a group that performed in various high schools in the northeastern provinces of Thailand, as well as a local sword team which eventually allowed the emerging martial artist to travel to China as an exchange student. Jaa was later named the official representative of the University of Physical Education throughout northeastern Thailand and Bangkok, and was awarded multiple medals in sword, staff, gymnastic, and track and field events. His skills as a performer steadily expanding thanks to his role as a stunt man in the Thai television series Golden Eagle, Jaa would soon bring his skills to the big screen when, in 1997, he appeared as an uncredited stunt double for Robin Shou in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. It wasn’t until the release of Ong Bak some six years later that Jaa would receive full credit for his remarkable martial arts skills, with the stripped-down brutality of Muay Thai offering a refreshing change of pace from the graceful wire-fu that saturated the international film market in the wake of The Matrix. The result of four years of Muay Thai training on behalf of Jaa,Ong Bak proved that the human body is capable of amazing things even without the aid of computer animation.
By this point Jaa had been named heir apparent to the legacies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan by nearly every film critic from Bangkok to Hollywood, and on top of that, the emerging martial arts icon developed a whole new form of Muay Thai (dubbed “Muay Thai Cochisai” for using the movements of an elephant) with which to woo audiences.
Keep it locked and loaded right here for more to come as we are your destination for everything action!
While we wait for more 411, check out Jaa’s extreme and exhilarating throw down from the finale of The Protector (Tom Yum Goong)!