Tony Jaa Taking Time Off To Be A Buddhist Monk
The 2003 Thai action film Ong Bak made an international star of Tony Jaa, a fierce martial artist who took his place right alongside Jackie Chan and Jet Li as an international martial arts star. A movie as popular as Ong Bak should have guaranteed a sequel that was an even bigger deal, but Ong Bak 2 came and went last year without too much attention, thanks largely to Jaa's graduation as director of the film and some massive behind-the-scenes production troubles.
The sequel was actually cut into two parts, but Ong Bak 3 was a flop in Thailand, and odds are we won't see it Stateside. Actually, we won't be seeing much of Jaa at all-- in what's maybe the oddest movie news of the week, Twitchfilm is reporting that Jaa has been officially ordained as a Buddhist monk. As they explain, monkhood in Thailand doesn't work exactly the way you might expect-- it's fairly common for men to join the monastery for a short period of time, and Jaa's own mother says she hopes he'll leave the monkhood and get married someday. It's even possible he'll return to the film industry, though given all the bad blood between him and the Ong Bak 2 producers, he might be waiting this one out a while.
TwitchFilm has a fantastic recap of all the disasters that went down while making Ong Bak 2, and why it actually makes perfect sense for Jaa to take an odd kind of hiatus right now. It's not exactly the Hollywood method of going to rehab or trying to become a politician, but if becoming a monk is what it takes for Jaa to recharge his batteries and come back with guns blazing, we'll patiently wait for his return.
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