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You might remember that Tony Jaa, who came to prominence as the high-flying, hard-kicking star of the highly entertaining Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior, experienced some trouble during the production of Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, his directorial debut. At one point he reportedly walked off the set and into the jungle to work out his problems.

Everything seemed to work out all right, old friends came back to help out, and the movie was released to good success in Thailand. Reviews were mixed to negative (in both my view and that of Todd Gilchrist), but everyone agreed the fight scenes were spectacular. Not so the follow-up, Ong Bak 3, which failed at the box office. And now Jaa has left acting behind, at least temporarily; he rode atop an elephant to a ceremony where his head was shaved, he took vows, and he was ordained as a Buddhist monk, as reported by Twitch.

"Thai Buddhist men routinely enter the monkhood at various auspicious times in their lives for short duration," observes local film journalist Wise Kwai. Jaa's service as a monk may well be temporary, but whether that means months or years is up to Jaa. In his report for Twitch, Todd Brown provides context on Jaa's career and details the troubles on the Ong Bak 2 set. He's seen Ong Bak 3 and thinks it "stinks of contractual obligation," that Jaa has lost his fire as a performer, and that the actor and budding filmmaker will wait out his 10-year contract with the production company behind Ong Bak 2 and 3. Personally, I think if that's what it takes for Jaa to find peace and happiness, that's what he should do.

Filed under: Action, Foreign Language, Independent, Newsstand, Cinematical Indie

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