By: John M Jerva
Today we celebrate international action star Tony Jaa’s birthday and he is 45 years young today so I thought what better way to pay respect to the Muy Thai Maestro then by dedicating this week’s Foot Fist Friday to him. Now there are numerous action scenes to choose from when you’re talking about Jaa and you could literally post any of them and you’d be on the money. Jaa broke onto the scene with 2003’s classic Ong Bak and was pretty muched billed as Thailand’s version of Jackie Chan as the newcomer did things onscreen that made audience’s jaws drop around the world. Jaa has become so much more than that over the years with each and every film and even though he’s in his forties now, he still has a lot of gas left in the tank and the best is still yet to come.
The scene I have chosen for FFF is the finale from 2005’s Tom Yum Goong which is also known as The Protector here in the States. In the film, Jaa plays Kham, a simple country boy, who goes on one serious search and rescue mission when two of his prized elephants are kidnapped by ruthless poachers and we all know that elephants are like gods to Thai people so Kham risks everything to bring them back alive and God help any and all that gets in his way.
The finale has always been one of my favorites because it is a different kind of fight scene for Jaa. Up until this point, Jaa thrilled fans with his death defying stunts that seemed to ignore the rules of gravity but here, when Kham is driven to complete and utter rage when he finds out that one of his elephants has been killed, he delivers one of the most brutal and unforgiving fight sequences in his career. In this sequence, Jaa takes on a virtual army of henchmen and it pretty much gets insane at just how many men he takes down with his bone crunching, and wince inducing moves that includes a hell of a lot of elbows and knees and a slew of broken bones. There is no insane acrobatic flips here, just pure unadulterated pain served up on a dish of vengeance and Jaa show us that when it comes to brutality, he’s king of the mountain.
When people speak of Jaa, Ong Bak always comes up in the conversation first but to me Tom Yum Goong was always a standout and I thought the movie contained a lot of sweet sentiment to go along with the physicality and you cpuld really relate with Kham and what he goes through to save his family. The scene culminates in Kham taking on behemoth Nathan Jones and a few other radically pumped up opponents and it is a sight to behold to see how the much smaller Kham takes out the giants with his arsenal of Muy Thai bravado. There is a reason why Jaa has become such an action icon over the years and this film definitely showcases his strengths and while it may not be his best cinematic effort, it still delivers the bone breaking goods.
With that as I always say in the immortal word of Arnold Schwarzennegger in Conan The Destroyer…”Enough Talk!” Check out Jaa in fine form in the thrilling and rousing conclusion to The Protector. Happy Birthday Tony and here’s to many more years of kicking ass for the fans!