I first travelled to Thailand in 2003. It was my first trip to Asia and one of the best experiences in my life. Wherever we went in Thailand, there was one guy we kept seeing advertised over and over: Tony Jaa. Initially working as a stuntman (on films such as Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), Jaa finally got to showcase his talents in the amazing Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior.
Like most people who saw Ong Bak, I was completely blown away by how great Tony Jaa is. He uses a unique style that incorporates Muay Boran style Muay Thai, Taekwondo and elements of Aikido. Unlike many other martial arts stars, Jaa does not use wires and rarely uses CGI in his films.
What surprises me is that 10 years on from Ong Bak, he has not been become the superstar he should be. Why wasn’t he in The Expendables or even a big Hollywood film such as The Avengers? Perhaps this was due to his limited English skills. Thankfully, he has continued to make great movies that showcase his talent, making two sequels (prequels) to Ong Bak and the amazing Tom Yum Goong (known as Warrior King in the UK and The Protector in the USA).
In a few months we will see the long awaited sequel to Tom Yum Goong and he is currently working on a film with action legend Dolph Lundgren in a film called A Man Will Rise. Check out those serious looks!
So over the next few years we could see Tony Jaa in big Asian and Hollywood films. How amazing would it be to see tony Jaa star in a film with Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Jean-Claude Van Damme or Donnie Yen?
Let’s forget about the future for now and look at the past. Since Ong Bak in 2003, Tony Jaa has been the star of four more films: Tom-Yum-Goong (2005), Ong Bak 2 (2008) and Ong Bak 3 (2010). He also has cameos in his mentor Panna Rittikrai’s two films The Bodyguard (2004) and The Bodyguard 2 (2007). There are so many great Tony Jaa fighting scenes that it is difficult for me to choose just one. Therefore, today I would like to show you 15 of my favourite Tony Jaa fighting scenes from his films.
1. Fight Club – Ong Bak (2003)
The fight club scene is the first time where most people saw What Tony Jaa could do. Set in a fictional bar in bar on Khaosan Road, Bangkok, it sees Tony Jaa’s character Ting being dragged into an illegal fighting competition. As you would expect, he kicks ass.
2. Running Scene – Ong Bak (2003)
If the fight club scene was the first time that we all found out that Tony Jaa could fight, the running scene was the first time we saw how acrobatic he is. In this clip he demonstrates flips, jumps and slides that would make an Olympic gymnast jealous. The replays of some of the scenes in this clip can be a bit tiresome though this can be forgiven considering Ong Bak was released specifically to showcase the talents of Tony Jaa.
3. Muay Thai Fight – Ong Bak (2003)
This is one of only moments when Jaa gets beaten up badly in a fight without dishing out some ass kicking himself. He has to throw the fight against a drugged up Burmese fighter so ends up getting beat almost half to death.
4. Shopping Cameo – The Bodyguard (2004)
You didn’t expect Tony Jaa to simply be sitting in the background for a cameo, did you? In The Bodyguard, his Ong Bak co-star Petchtai Wongkamlao bumps into him in the store whilst in the middle of a shootout with bad guys. He insults Jaa and tells him not to get involved, though as you would expect, Jaa doesn’t listen to his advice and proceeds to beat all the bad guys up using knees and acrobatic kicks.
5. Vendor Cameo – The Bodyguard 2 (2007)
In The Bodyguard 2, Jaa plays a vendor who sells gifts on the street. The antagonists drive past in their car and steal an item from his stall. Anyone who has seen a Tony jaa film will know what they stole…yes, it was a porcelain elephant. Jaa isn’t one to take kindly to stealing so he chases after the car, asks for his elephant back and then beats everyone up because they didn’t give it back. Remember: Never do anything to harm an elephant when Tony Jaa is around!
6. Beating Up Gangsters – Tom Yum Goong (2005)
Jaa arrives at the base of a gangster with a flying knee that knocks out five men. You may remember it for the part where a gangster who is in the middle of a Chinese bulb massage getting kicked against the wall. My favourite part comes at the end when he jumps at the enemy going for a gun and locks him up before taking his gun away.
7. Stairway Scene – Tom Yum Goong (2005)
Anyone who has watched the end credits of a Jackie Chan film knows that very few martial arts fight scenes get completed in one take. Which is why I consider the stairway scene in Tom Yum Goong in one of the best scenes from any martial arts movie. It is several minutes long and packed with dozens of fights and stunts…yet it was filmed in one take!!! That truly is unbelievable. Think about that when you are watching this clip. All it would have taken was one mistake from any of the dozens of people in this scene for it all to be retaken. Unbelievable.
8. Bone Breaking Scene – Tom Yum Goong (2005)
In this clip, Tony Jaa’s character Kham encounters about one hundred attacker and they all end up going up with broken bones. Despite the cheesy sound effects which were added to represent bones breaking, this is one of my favourite scenes from Tom Yum Goong. It is amazing to see how many different methods he uses to break the bones of his opponents.
9. Temple Fight – Tom Yum Goong (2005)
The template fight scene in Tom Yum Goong has to be one of the most cinematic scenes from any of Tony Jaa’s films. It is set in flooded monastery that has been set on fire. His first opponent is Capoeira fighter Lateef Crowder Dos Santos, who you may recognise as Eddy Gordo from Tekken, Rodrigo Silva from Undisputed III or Baraka from Mortal Kombat: Rebirth.
Jaa then goes on to fight sword fighter Jon Foo and wrestler/strongman Nathan Jones.
10. Final Battle – Tom Yum Goong (2005)
6 ft 11 strongman competitor Nathan Jones was Jaa’s main opponent at the end of Tom Yum Goong. After Nathan Jones character T.K. gets the better of Jaa, he straps huge elephant bones to his arms and starts beating everyone to a bloody pulp. He then finishes everyone off with surgical precision using two sharp elephant bones, slashing tendons, muscles and more.
11. Market Slave Fight Scene – Ong Bak 2 (2008)
The market fight scene from Ong Bak 2 starts off very differently from other fighting scenes. Jaa uses a combination of drunken boxing and old school wrestling moves to beat everyone who is coming at him. He then finishes everyone else using Muay Boran.
12. Pirate Fight Scenes – Ong Bak 2 (2008)
In this scene, Tony Jaa’s character Tien is first attacked by aggressors with a range of different weapons, which he uses against them to kill them. He then has a long duel with two of of the dark clothed attackers. I love this scene because of how effectively he fights two attackers at the one time.
13. Fighting in Chains – Ong Bak 3 (2010)
You would think that shackling Tony Jaa would stop him from breaking everyone’s face with his kicks. Not so. He wraps the chains around his hand and then starts to beat everyone up with them. It’s a little far fetched….but the whole movie is far fetched so it is hard to criticise.
14. Fighting the Guards – Ong Bak 3 (2010)
The is a pretty epic fight scene in which Tien (Jaa) ends up fighting a whole army. He starts off by using elephants tusks to swing around and dropkick guards. He then goes on a bloody rampage impaling anyone who looks at him wrongly, before beating a man to death with his fists. He’s not someone you want to piss off!
15. Final Fight – Ong Bak 3 (2010)
The final fight in Ong Bak 3 is probably not the most exciting Tony Jaa fight scenes. I am sure even Tony Jaa fanatics were a little disappointed it as he does not showcase the explosive muay thai for which he is known. Instead, he uses a passive tai-chi style fighting style in the final battle.
So I do not think this battle will be in most people’s top list of Tony Jaa’s fighting scenes, yet I think it is a worthy inclusion as it showcases a completely different style than he uses in any of his other films.
I hope you have enjoyed this list of classic Tony Jaa fighting scenes. If so, I encourage you to like the post on Facebook or share it on Twitter or Reddit.