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Tom Yum Goong Press Conference

Enter The Next Action Star

The next mega action star after action flick icons, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan was in town to promote his latest movie, “Tom Yum Goong”. He is none other than Tony Jaa, one of the hottest celebrities in the Thailand film industry now and he sure knows how to make an entrance.

While waiting for Tony Jaa to appear, two burly men rushed into the press conference, demanding for Tony’s appearance and making things difficult for the host. The perfect entrance for the action star as Tony Jaa came in to the conference to save the damsel in distress with spectacular punches and superb somersault kick.

Once the excitement dies down, Tony Jaa started sharing with us on the preparation of “Tom Yum Goong”. In order to make a better movie after his widely successful “Ong Bak”, Tony Jaa and his team prepared and did their research for 2 years prior to “Tom Yum Goong”’s production. The film’s budget doubled (althought Tony Jaa would let us know that there no Insurance company is willing to insured him) and they took the filming locations down south, all the way to Sydney in order to thrill the audiences even more.

The main reason for choosing the title Tom Yum Goong was because it’s an international well known Thai soup that contain different flavours, blending hot, sourness and spiciness into one and Tony Jaa wanted his movie to contain the combination of action, drama and comedy.

Tony Jaa also revealed the most difficult stunt in this movie would be the scene where he fought his way up a 4 level building in an uncut 4 minutes sequence. The difficulties lies where everyone involved in the shoot, including the cameraman had to be very fit to perform the sequence in one exhausting take. It took almost one month of preparation and 5 days of shooting with 8 tries to finally capture these 4 minutes sequence.

Even thought this movie is filled with dangerous scenes, there were very few injuries during this movie’s production. Tony Jaa credited the safe working environment to the amount of preparation that his stunt team and him rehearsed before the filming started. However it wasn’t all without any hiccup as Tony Jaa did sustain an injury when a motorcycle driven by an extreme sport motorcyclist hurt his ankle and had to delay the filming for 2 days. That was the worst injury he got from filming “Tom Yum Goong”

Inspired by his hero, Bruce Lee’s last fight with NBA basketball player, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in “Game of Death”, Tony Jaa took on a giant in Tom Yum Goong and this time, the giant comes in a the form of Nathan Jones (the same giant who fought Brad Pitt in “Troy”). It wasn’t easy to arrange the action sequence with Nathan Jones as he was really a big size guy who was able to exert as much force on his kicks and punches as he is build for but Tony Jaa pointed out that Nathan Jones was very willing to work with the stunt team, taking in the punches and kicks and much as delivering them to make the action sequence in this film a success.

Even thought he had attained International recognition for the stunts he achieved in his films, the modest Tony Jaa declared that he would have never expected success to arrive so quickly in his film career. He would have been contended with just fame in Thailand and the success in the international arena was an unexpected pleasant bonus surprise. Although Hollywood beckons him, his current plans would be to stay put in Thailand to produce a couple more high quality action flicks before moving on to the west.

Not bad for someone who grew up watching martial arts movies from Bruce Lee and Jet Li in outdoor cinema and dreams of becoming like his idols, Tony Jaa is a living proof that with hard works and determination, dreams are always within reach.

Tom Yum Goong is rated NC-16 and is reviewed here.

Reported by Richard Lim Jr
Photos Credit: Mohamad Shaifulbahri
Layout by: Linus Tee

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