Tony Jaa

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Tony Jaa
Tony Jaa 2005.jpg
Born Worawit Yeerum[1]
(1976-02-05) February 5, 1976 (age 39)
Surin province, Isan, Thailand
Rank      Black belt in Taekwondo
     Black belt in Wushu
Kru in Muay Boran
Instructor in Eskrima and Kino Mutai
Occupation Actor, Director, Action Choreographer, Writer, Producer, martial arts choreographer, martial artists, physical educator, stunt man

Japanom Yeerum (Thai: จาพนม ยีรัมย์),[2][3] formerly Tatchakorn Yeerum[4] (Thai: ทัชชกร ยีรัมย์; rtgsThatchakon Yiram) or Phanom Yeerum (Thai: พนม ยีรัมย์; rtgsPhanom Yiram;  [pʰanom jiːram]; born February 5, 1976), better known internationally as Tony Jaa, in Thailand as Jaa Phanom (Thai: จา พนม; rtgsCha Phanom), is a Thai martial artist, physical educator, actor, action choreographer, film producer, stuntman, director, and has spent time as a Buddhist monk.[5] His films include Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, Tom-Yum-Goong (also called Warrior King or The Protector), Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning, Ong Bak 3 and Tom Yum Goong 2 (or The Protector 2).

Early life[edit]

Tony Jaa was born in Surin province, Isaan, Thailand, and was raised in a rural area in Surin.[6] His hometown is 400 km far from Bangkok. As he grew up he watched films by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Vince Lam and Jet Li at temple fairs, which was his inspiration to learn martial arts. He was so inspired by them that while he was doing chores or playing with friends, he would imitate the martial arts moves that he had seen, practicing in his father's rice paddy. When he was 10 years old, he threatened his father that he would kill himself if he was not taught by Panna Rittikrai.[4]

"What they [Chan, Lee and Li] did was so beautiful, so heroic that I wanted to do it too," Jaa told Time in a 2004 interview. "I practiced until I could do the move exactly as I had seen the masters do it."[7][8]

He began training in muay thai at the local temple from age 8 and at age 15 he requested to become a protégé of stuntman and action-film director Panna Rittikrai.[4] Panna had instructed Jaa to attend Maha Sarakham College of Physical Education in Maha Sarakham Province. He has trained for an unspecified time in taekwondo,[4][6] earning a black belt in the art, although there are no details regarding if this was in formal taekwondo training or as part of his stunt team member apprenticeship. Likewise, he is highly skilled in muay Thai and has fought competitively many times during Muay Thai Training Camp, without losing. He is a well versed martial artist excelling in Muay Boran, Muay Thai, Aikido, Judo, Wushu & Taekwondo.

Jaa won several Gold medals in Thailand for track running, fencing & gymnastics.

Jaa was also self trained in various kung fu styles as well as krabi krabong, lethwei and kino mutai, which he can be seen using in the Ong Bak and Tum Yum Goong films. He was a successful high jump athlete at university.[4][6] He is still able to jump two meters high.[6]


Stunt work[edit]

Tony Jaa's most notable stunt work was being the stunt man for the character of Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Tony initially worked as a stuntman for 14 years, Muay Thai Stunt, appearing in many of Panna's films. He doubled for Sammo Hung when the martial-arts actor made a commercial for an energy drink that required him to grasp an elephant's tusks and somersault onto the elephant's back.[9] He was also a stunt double in the Thai television series Insee Daeng (Red Eagle).[10]


Together, Panna and Jaa developed an interest in muay boran, the predecessor of muay Thai and worked and trained for four years at the art with the intention of developing a film about it. Eventually they were able to put together a short film showing what Jaa could do with the help of instructor Grandmaster Mark Harris. One of the people they showed it to was producer-director Prachya Pinkaew, who was duly impressed.

This led to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior in 2003, Jaa's break-out role as a leading man. Jaa did all the stunts without mechanical assistance or computer-generated effects and it showcased his style of extreme acrobatics and speedy, dance-like moves. Injuries suffered in the filming included a ligament injury and a sprained ankle. One scene in the film involved fighting with another actor while his own trousers were on fire. "I actually got burned," he said in a 2005 interview. "I really had to concentrate because once my pants were on fire the flames spread upwards very fast and burnt my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my nose. Then we had to do a couple more takes to get it right.".[11]

His second major movie was Tom-Yum-Goong (The Protector in the US), named after a type of Thai soup and including a style of muay Thai that imitates elephants.

In August 2006, he was in New York to promote the US release of The Protector, including an appearance at the Museum of the Moving Image.[12]

Next projects[edit]

Sahamongkol Film International advertised that Tony Jaa's third film would be called Sword or Daab Atamas, about the art of Thai two-sword fighting (daab song mue), with a script by Prapas Chonsalanont.[13] But due to a falling out between Prachya and Jaa, which neither have publicly commented on, Sword has been cancelled.[14]

On March 2006 it was reported that there would be a sequel to Ong-Bak, Ong-Bak 2. With Jaa both directing and starring, it started pre-production in fall 2006 and was released in December 2008.[14][15][16][17]

While Jaa& Amogelang were working on Ong-Bak 2, director Prachya Pinkaew and action ya choreographer Panna Rittikrai were working on Chocolate, starring a female martial artist, Nicharee Vismistananda, and released February 6, 2008.[14] Jaa had been cast in a small role in a third installment of the King Naresuan film series directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol, although the film was ultimately cancelled. Ong Bak 3 was released in 2010 and provides a conclusion to this Thai trilogy.

Other developments[edit]

His films captured the attention of his hero, Jackie Chan, who asked director Brett Ratner to cast Jaa in Rush Hour 3. "I gave the director videos of Tony Jaa because I think Tony Jaa is the most well-rounded of all action stars," Chan told the Associated Press.[18] "The director liked him a lot," Chan said.[18] However, Jaa said he'd be unable to participate because of scheduling conflicts with the shooting of Ong Bak 2.[18][19]

Tony Jaa also released Ong Bak 3, as a sequel to the prequel Ong Bak 2.


On May 28, 2010, Jaa became a Buddhist monk at a Buddhist temple in Surin, Thailand.

Return to acting[edit]

After leaving the monastery, it came as a surprise to all that Jaa accepted a deal with Sahamongkol film company. He filmed Tom Yum Goong 2 for them, with Chocolate star Jija Yanin in a major role too, the first time Jaa has shared the big screen with another international martial arts star. Director Prachya Pinkaew and choreographer Panna Rittikrai also returned for this film.[20]

Jaa will team up with Dolph Lundgren in the action film A Man Will Rise and Skin Trade (to be directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham).[21] In August 2013, it was reported that Jaa has signed up for a role in the blockbuster film Furious 7. Jaa will also team up with fellow actor Wu Jing in upcoming Hong Kong action film SPL II a prequel to the 2005 film SPL: Sha Po Lang.[22]

Jaa was briefly attached to the remake of Kickboxer.[23] However, in November 2014, it was announced that he had exited the project.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Tony Jaa officially registered his marriage to longtime girlfriend Piyarat Chotiwattananont on 29 December 2011, the wedding ceremony was held on 3 May 2012. The couple has one child.[25]



Year Title Role Note
1994 Spirited Killer Supporting role[26]
1996 Hard Gun Supporting role[27]
1996 Mission Hunter 2 Supporting role[28]
1997 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Stunt double for Robin Shou Uncredited
2001 Nuk leng klong yao Supporting role[29]
2003 Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior Ting Main role, action choreographer
2004 The Bodyguard Himself Cameo
2005 Tom-Yum-Goong Kham Main role, action choreographer
2007 The Bodyguard 2 Himself Cameo
2008 Ong Bak 2 Tian Main role, action choreographer, director and stunt coordinator
2010 Ong Bak 3 Tian Main role, action choreographer, director and stunt coordinator
2013 Tom Yum Goong 2 Kham Main role and action choreographer
2015 Furious 7 Kiet Hollywood debut film
Skin Trade Tony Vitayakul Supporting role
SPL II Chai Hong Kong debut film

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Khaosod - Tony Ja Yeerum (Thai)
  2. ^ เปิดหนังสือยกเลิกสัญญาของ "จา พนม" แฉ "สหฯ" สุดแสบ ส่งจม.ต่อสัญญาอัตโนมัติ ไปให้ "พ่อ จา พนม" (in Thai). Manager Online. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2013-10-27. 
  3. ^ "จาพนม" ร่อนจดหมายแฉสัญญากับสหฯ 10 ปีไม่ต่างอะไรกับ "ลูกจ้าง" (in Thai). Manager Online. 2013-09-12. Retrieved 2013-10-27. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Tony Jaa". Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  5. ^ Twitch Film,ONG BAK Star Tony Jaa Joins The Monkhood. May 28, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d Cavagna, Carlo. "Profile & Interview: Tony Jaa". AboutFilm. Retrieved 2011-09-12. 
  7. ^ Perrin, Andrew (October 18, 2004). "Hitting the big time", Time.
  8. ^ Perrin, Andrew (October 18, 2004). "Quotes of the Day"
  9. ^ Pornpitagpan, Nilubol (February 3, 2003). "Leap into the limelight". Bangkok Post.
  10. ^ Yusof, Zack (November 21, 2003). "Selling a Thai style", The Star (Malaysia) (retrieved from on December 15, 2006).
  11. ^ Franklin, Erika. May 2005. "Alive and Kicking: Tony Jaa interviewed", Firecracker Media (retrieved on December 15, 2006)
  12. ^ Hendrix, Grady. August 21, 2006. Tony Jaa in town, kicks people, (retrieved August 23, 2006).
  13. ^ Kaiju Shakedown, "Next Tony Jaa project announced", May 27, 2005.
  14. ^ a b c Payee, Parinyaporn, A hit of 'Chocolate', The Nation (Thailand); retrieved 2007-11-18
  15. ^ Payee, Parinyaporn. November 30, 2006. High-kicking khon, The Nation.
  16. ^ The Nation, "Soop Sip", May 3, 2006 (print only).
  17. ^ Frater, Patrick (March 27, 2006). "Weinsteins are back with another 'Bak'" Variety (magazine) (subscription-only).
  18. ^ a b c "Jackie Chan says he plugged Thai Tony Jaa for 'Rush Hour 3,' but he didn't sign on". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  19. ^ Grady Hendrix. "Brett Ratner's Asian orgy". Kaiju Shakedown via Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2007-01-18. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  20. ^ News: Tony Jaa And Prachya Pinkaew Reunite For TOM YUM GOONG 2. Retrieved on 2011-11-23.
  21. ^ Fresh Details On Dolph Lundgren And Tony Jaa's A MAN WILL RISE
  22. ^ Collura, Scott (2013-08-23). "Ong Bak '​s Tony Jaa Joins Fast and Furious 7". IGN. Retrieved 2013-08-24. 
  23. ^ "‘Kickboxer’ Reboot Punches Up Cast With Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa". Variety. August 5, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014. 
  24. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: KICKBOXER Loses Fung, Gains 'In The Blood' Director". Film Combat Syndicate. November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 23, 2014. 
  25. ^ "จาพนม-บุ้งกี๋"อุ้มท้องฉลองสมรสชื่นมื่น(ชมภาพชุด) (in Thai). Daily News. 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  26. ^ "Plook mun kuen ma kah 4". IMDB. 
  27. ^ "Puen hode". IMDB. 
  28. ^ "Nuk soo dane song kram". IMDB. 
  29. ^ "Nuk leng klong yao". IMDB. 

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