Tony Jaa was online Monday, Feb. 7, at noon ET to talk about his new film, Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior. (Ong Bak is translated as "Buddha statue."
A transcript follows.
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Tony Jaa, welcome to washingtonpost.com. Tell us about The Thai Warrior and what you do in the film. What kind of martial arts are you trained in?
Tony Jaa: (TRANSLATED THROUGH INTERPRETER)
The muay thai that you see in Ong-Bak is an ancient form of muay thai called muay thai boran where the movements are more traditional and have customs seaped into them. The movements are more definite and stronger but it becomes evolved into a stage form of muay thai that you see on stage which becomes affected by rules. With rules involved the moves are not seen as definite. Another form is the amateur muay thai.
For my training I studied muay thai since the age of 10. My father was a muay thai boxer.
I've studied all forms of martial arts but for the movie I studied muay thai for four years, doing extensive research and studying with various masters throughout the country.
What martial arts have you studied, and for how long?
Tony Jaa: I've studied martial arts since I was 10. I went to study at a physical education academy in Mahasarakhram. I've studied taekwondo, judo, wu-zhu, muay thai, thai sword fighting.
Are you planning a new movie? I'd like to see you working with Hong Kong martial art actors in the future.
Tony Jaa: Right now I am working on a film in Thailand called Tom Yum Goong. As for working with Hong Kong martial arts actors, that would have to be something that would be in the future. It is in the talks :)
I saw your movie in Bangkok in 2003 at Seacon Square. I'm Thai. When will your next movie come out? Are you taking English lessons? Good luck! Sawadee ka
Tony Jaa: Sawasdee Krub! My next movie, Tom Yum Goong will be released in Asia on the 12th of August, Mother's Day :) I am still taking English lessons, but do not have time at the moment because I am filming my movie. :) Thank you for your warm wishes.
How long will you be in USA and what cities?
Tony Jaa: I will be in the U.S. until the 14th of February. I have been in San Francisco, L.A., Atlanta, and now in Washington, D.C. My next and last stop is NY
Considering how long ago this movie was made, are you working on any new projects now?
Tony Jaa: Right now I am working on my next film, Tom Yum Goong. :)
What will you be doing for your next project? Will you be doing any Hollywood movies?
Tony Jaa: In terms of Hollywood movies, that would have to be in the talks as well. :)
Are you studying English for future movies?
Tony Jaa: I am taking English courses, but because I am currently filming my movie, I do not have time right now.
The movie sounds great, I'm looking forward to seeing it. I read that there were no ropes or CGI effects used for your action scenes. Is that true? And are you opposed to using those kinds of enhancements in future movies?
Tony Jaa: Thank you. Yes, it is true that I do not use any wires or effects in the movie. I would like to be able to present my true abilites onto film. Those stunts that I cannot do, I wouldn't do. These stunts take extensive time and practice to perfect.
I just wanted to comment that I saw Ong Bak last year, and was really impressed with the action and lack of cgi or wirework. Best of luck to you in the future, and I can't wait to see more of your films.
Tony Jaa Fan
Tony Jaa: Thank you very much. Please stay tuned for my next movie. :)
Other than satires, 99 percent of martial arts films are awful movies. One of the worst things about them is the way bad guys willingly participate in their own demise, like having four guys stand around the hero and attack him one at a time.
Given your background, have you choreographed (if that's the right term) any better martial arts techniques by the antagonists than is typical in the genre?
Tony Jaa: In choreographing the fight scenes, I try to make the fight scenes as realistic as possible, but we try to choreograph the scenes as best as we can to make it as realistic as possible.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.:
What style(s) of kung-fu have you practiced or trained?
Tony Jaa: I actually learned kung fu as a martial art altogether at the academy. I didn't really focus on a certain discipline.