Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What the heck is up with Tony Jaa?

My blogging friend Mathew MacNish asked me to beta read his wonderful manuscript Warrior Monks. Matt has done a ton of research on oriental philosophy, martial arts, and the weapons that ninjas, Shaolin monks, samurai, and Chinese kung-fu films have made famous. This all kind of triggered in me a resurgence of interest in the career of Tony Jaa.

If you don't know who Tony Jaa is, then shame on you. He exploded onto the American scene around 2007 with a hit movie called Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior. The movie was short on plot, but showcased Muay Thai like I had never seen before. Jaa can vertically jump two meters, land on people's shoulders, and walk on them. He really can do this stunt and he does it in the film. He could jump through a hoop at full break neck speed, do somersaults, and twirls, and vertical pushups on elephant tusks. If you have the time, please check out the action-packed clips I have embedded in this post. It's possible that after watching them, you too shall become a fan of Tony Jaa.
I saw his next film called The Protector and there's a scene in there where he breaks the bones of like fifty guys. There's also another scene done in one shot where he runs up a spiral building basically annihilating everyone that gets in his way. The guy was a one man wrecking crew, and I loved it.

So after reading Warrior Monks one evening, I flipped to the internet to find out what had happened to Tony Jaa and if he had anymore great films coming out.

I discovered that he left the film business and became a Buddhist monk in 2010.

Like...really? What the hell?
Who goes and does this in 2010? The guy is single, rich, handsome, had the world right there...probably could nail any woman that he wanted or afford anything that he desired. He was a living sex symbol, has legions of adoring fans in Thailand (his native country), and a movie career that was just starting to explode. Basically, he was getting enough "power" that he could make any movie that he wanted. And that probably goes for America too. Like he could come here and demand what he wanted in a script from Hollywood and they would green light it.
Maybe if I understood Buddhism more, then I could somehow relate to this scenario. But I have to say I'm disappointed. I wanted to see more action films from him.

So I guess this blog post is an open letter to Tony Jaa who will probably never read it anyway since he's in a monastery somewhere in Thailand and I can't imagine that there is internet or WiFi there.
Dear Tony Jaa, 
Please pull your head out of your ass and get back to making good movies. I wish you the best.
Your adoring fan, 
Michael Offutt XOXO


  1. You're hilarious, Michael. My guess is that he might find being a monk more 'fulfilling' than being a movie star.

    But perhaps he will read your letter and realise that he has indeed lost his way. Stranger things have happened...

  2. Dear Michael,

    I didn't realize you have been so bored during my absence. I've been a bit busy you see trying to reach Nirvana through spiritual meditation. Peace of mind and freedom from suffering obviously pales in comparison to pussy and fame. I understand this now. Thank you for enlightening me, I'll be on the next flight to Hollywood.

    Yours Truly,
    Big T

    *I'm just messin with ya Michael (: Tony Jaa was/is an awesome martial artist. I miss his action sequences too.*

  3. Guess he just found a higher calling. Although that does sound like something out of a bad movie.

  4. Your post made me laugh.. in a good way. I like your sense of humour.

  5. I hope he is happy with his new life. If he is, then more power to him.

    Besides, didn't Batman do something similar as part of his origin story. Maybe he wants to become a super hero.

  6. Wow! Thanks for introducing me to Tony Jaa and his epic martial arts! I write fight scenes and actiony stuff into my novels, so this is perfect research watching.

    As for him becoming a monk, maybe the power you're talking about was not for him. Everyone finds their own paths in life. Maybe he's the type that if he stayed in Hollywood he would have been corrupted by it.

  7. I was wondering who that guy was when you Tweeted about him, but I was too lazy to Google it. And now I don't have too. Huzzah.

    Maybe he went into the monastery so he won't die like Bruce Lee or so he doesn't get stuck making horrible movies with Chris Tucker like Jackie Chan.

  8. Oh Michael. You crack me up. Tony Jaa should listen to you. Alas, your advice cannot compete with spiritual peace in a monastery. Thanks for the videos!

  9. Um, maybe he's just doing research in the monastery for his next film ... Warrior Monks.

    Wowzer, he's got some strong abs.

  10. I think Tony Jaa got seduced by the Jet Li Do.

    1)Jump and twirl on camera

    Maybe. That's just a hypothesis.

  11. erg i still haven't seen Ong Bak! It's on my queue.
    And my guess is, since buddhists believe in reincarnation, perhaps he felt the life he was living wasn't getting him closer to enlightenment.
    Have you seen the documentary The Unmistaken Child? It's about a monk's search for his reincarnated master. It's a great documentary and i highly recommend it

  12. Watched the first clip. Impressive stunt work.

  13. Of course I know who Tony Jaa is. I am an avid--more like obsessed--fan of Martial Art flicks. Just last night I saw Ip Man for the first time, starring the in credible Donnie Yen and I was BLOWN away. I had no idea there was a martial art called Wing Chun--or that it was invented by a woman--or that it was taught to Bruce Lee. Holy shit!

    But I digress. I learned he left the industry at the start of January 2011. Reports claim he wanted to cleanse himself of debauchery because he felt he was selling his soul, or something like that. I guess the heart wants what it wants, regardless of how successful it is, or might become. I hope someday he comes back and rips up the Big Screen like he used to.

  14. It's difficult to find a good action movie these days. Everything has been done before. I can see why you want him to make more films. He's riveting to watch.

  15. Hmm... Rusty's theory certainly sounds interesting. Maybe you need to get someone to flash a bat signal over Thailand.

  16. Well... at least he isn't dead, so I guess there's hope that he'll change his mind.

  17. What's wrong with me? I hadn't heard of him. But I don't see many action movies, so in my defense...

  18. @Cally: T.D. sent me an email that said he has left the monkhood recently. I hadn't heard that. So maybe he'll be making kickass movies again.

    @Elise: LOLOL. Your response is the best ever.

    @Alex: Indeed sir.

    @tfwalsh: Thank you miss and g'day mate (Aussie right?)

    @Rusty: Hmm. You are so clever Mr. Death Egg.

    @Suzanne: SUZ! So glad you commented. I've been having trouble finding your blog, but I think I have the right address now lol. Do you change your blog frequently?

    @P.T.: I think you'd like his movies. Check them out on Netflix. Lots of asskicking action.

    @Brinda: Thanks for stopping by Brinda.

    @L.G.: He does have strong abs.

    @Ben: He's the real deal man. I know you like UFC. You should look this guy up.

    @Sarah: I will check it out.

    @J.L.: Yes. It is impressive stunt work. I agree.

    @T.D.: I knew you'd know who this guy is. Thanks for the email.

    @Emily: I agree. I love the bone-breaking sounds.

    @Andrew: That's a great idea!

    @Misha: haha yes there is that.

  19. the way of zen, like the way of tao, take a lifetime to learn, even then much will be missing...

    was wondering what had happened to him, since i'm always keen on knowing more about those of us with that name... tony, that is

  20. shame on me I've no idea who he is, but I'd like to get to know him, send him my phone number.....

  21. I actually watched those movies. Can't believe he's a monk now!@

  22. Damn, just when I think I'm getting in shape, I watch a clip like that and feel like a blob.

    I think my favorite part was when he jumped split-legged over a spike. What unreal physical skills this guy has. But maybe the world of movies and fame were too frenetic and corrupt for him and being a monk has more meaning. And don't forget that it was shaolin monks who invented a martial art.

  23. I like a quieter life, too, so I can understand it ... some.

  24. You absolutely crack me up, Michael. I love your sense of humor. I was surrounded by martial arts growing up, and I have a great respect for it. I will tell you that many martial artists are deeply spiritual people. Of course, you don't know what might have triggered his decision. I hope he is happy, heals, and returns to the movies. I'm sure he will after reading your letter to him.

  25. Well he can sure jump! I hadn't heard of him...I wonder what made him turn to Buddhism though...

    Good post.

  26. Michael, you make me laugh. Maybe he found that fortune, fame and sex with anyone didn't make him happy. Who knows. But... he has some majorly awesome moves in these clips! Love it.

  27. Ah, youth. Jackie Chan eat your heart out.

  28. Maybe the movie biz wasn't what he wanted. Maybe he'll tire of being a monk.

    Although, that gives me an idea for as story...

  29. I can see the appeal of becoming a monk. It's probably a lot more enjoyable then acting.

  30. Michael,

    I did not expect to read something so heart-wrenching as what I have just ... I can't even go on.
    Seriously, though, I used to have the biggest crush on Tony Jaa. The Protector probably launched me into actually having sexual fantasies (late bloomer.)

    Now I'm having flashbacks of that one hot guy from the backstreet boys that found jesus.

    Will organized religion never stop stealing the things I love (and think about naked?)