When Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior burst onto the film scene back in 2003, it blew away every single martial arts fan on the planet. This is a fact, and in no way whatsoever an exaggeration. Tony Jaa literally reached through the screen like the girl from The Ring and physically elbowed every single one of them in the face and told them to pay attention.
That's because in 2003 no one was really making martial arts movies the way Jaa and his director Prachya Pinkaew were. The rest of the world was in love with wire fu and CGI, and here Jaa was beating the hell out of his own body and those of countless stuntmen all in the name of cinema. Even crazier is the fact that Jaa had been trying to make movies that way for years, but nothing big ever got off the ground.
He just posted his personal demo reel from 1997 on Facebook, and it predates his first major movie by nearly half a decade. Yes, he had been doing stunt work prior to Ong-Bak, but nothing that put him on the international map the way that film would. Just think about the action movies from the late '90s and how cool it would have been to see Jaa doing his thing. What if Jaa had been in Double Team with Jean-Claude Van Damme or was one of Castor Troy's goons in Face/Off. What if he replaced Jet Li in Lethal Weapon 4 or even beat up on some punk kids in 3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain? What a strange, cool world that'd be to live in.
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