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New English language action franchise to star Tony Jaa

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The talented martial artist will portray an assassin on the run from law enforcement in the trilogy

37th Hong Kong Film Awards
Tony Jaa at the 37th Hong Kong Film Awards
Photo by Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

Just earlier this week, Bloody Elbow covered Tony Jaa’s latest action movie, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Monster Hunter, and noted it was a shame that Jaa’s prodigious martial arts skills appeared absent from the film. It seems that the Thai star will now have an opportunity to show American audiences just what he as to offer, in an as yet unnamed action trilogy produced by Starlight Entertainment.

Deadline first reported the deal, stating that Jaa will play a legendary assassin who reappears after a three year absence, only to be pursued by various law enforcement agencies. The story will apparently unfold Pulp Fiction-style, slowly revealing the identity of the mysterious assassin.

Although Jaa has appeared in many American productions at this point (he has another 2020 film in the Nic Cage movie Jiu Jitsu), this will be the first time he carries a US film as the protagonist.

Jaa’s breakout role was in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, which led to two other Ong-Bak movies. He made his Hollywood debut in Furious 7, fighting Paul Walker in the back of a moving surveillance truck.

A former Buddhist monk, Jaa fell in love with martial arts movies, and as a boy mimicked the moves of Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan in his father’s rice paddy. He began studying martial arts at his local temple at age ten, and began seriously pursuing his dreams of working in martial arts movies at age fifteen. For fourteen years he worked as a stunt man and has extensive experience as a fight choreographer as well. Now 44, he is respected as one of the best martial arts stars working in film today.

Peter Luo, the CEO of Starlight Entertainment, said this about the upcoming trilogy: “Tony is the perfect artist to lead this fast moving, adrenaline rush of a movie, where the physical demands match the traditional leading man visceral performance needs. He’ll be able to demonstrate his full, and extremely impressive, repertoire of skills to elevate this story, which will have inherent cross-border appeal globally.”