These acts of belligerence forced upon the unwitting Ting are quickly and intelligently counter-emotioned by director Prachya Pinkaew, as Ting has a delightful, gymnastic steeplechase through the cluttered back alleys of Bangkok. Yet perhaps the highlights of the film are not only Jaa’s bouts with the seething, meth-induced fits of pugilistic havoc by the film’s rabid epileptic adversary, Samin, but also Jaa’s outrageous stunts such as his deadly knee-drop strikes, elbows of fury, attack of the SUV and the far out fire kicks.
Tony Jaa said that although the SUV gag was the scariest, he really had to concentrate during the deserted gas station stunt where he poured gasoline on himself then did a jumping, aerial kick. He got burned pretty badly during the scene because once the pants caught on fire, the flames rapidly spread upwards and burnt his eyebrows, armpit hairs, eyelashes and nose. After a few more burning takes, they got it right. The major issue was that no one had done fire stunts before and so when he caught on fire nobody told him to get on the ground where the flames stay localized longer and thus easier to douse the flames. Instead he stayed on his feet and was moving around trying to put it out.
In regard to the fights, Tony Jaa described, “We spent a lot of time preparing the action fight sequences. Unlike Jackie, we just didn’t show up on set and do them, we worked on all the choreography for many months before shooting the film, to make sure we knew what we wanted to do ahead of time. All the fights and movements were trying to bring out certain aspects of Muay Baron, like the foot stomping, and hand and body posturing.”
Stay tuned for discussions on the martial arts influences behind Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector) then Ong Bak 2 and Ong Bak 3, which were filmed simultaneously.