Tony Jaa

Tatchakorn Yeerum[1][2] (Thai: ทัชชกร ยีรัมย์, RTGS: Thatchakon Yiram, pronounced [tʰát.t͡ɕʰā.kɔ̄ːn jīː.rām]; formerly Phanom Yeerum (Thai: พนม ยีรัมย์, [pʰā.nōm jīː.rām]); born 5 February 1976), better known internationally as Tony Jaa and in Thailand as Jaa Phanom (Thai: จา พนม, RTGS: Cha Phanom, [t͡ɕāː pʰā.nōm]), is a Thai martial artist, actor, action choreographer, stuntman, director and former Buddhist monk.[3] His films include Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior (2003), Tom-Yum-Goong (2005), Ong Bak 2: The Beginning (2008), Furious 7 (2015) and SPL II: A Time for Consequences (2015).

Tony Jaa
Tony Jaa in 2005
Born (1976-02-05) 5 February 1976
Surin, Thailand
Other namesJaa Phanom
Years active1994–present
OccupationActor, martial artist, choreographer, stuntman, director, traceur
Piyarat Chotiwattananont
(m. 2011)

Early life

Tony Jaa was born and raised in a rural area in Surin Province to Rin Saipetch and Thongdee Yeerum.[4] He is of Kuy descent, a Mon–Khmer ethnic group that inhabits Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. He is capable of speaking Kuy, Thai and Cambodian.[5]

In his youth, Jaa watched films by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li at temple fairs, which was his inspiration to learn martial arts. He was so inspired by them that while he was doing chores or playing with friends, he would imitate the moves that he had seen, practicing in his father's rice paddy.

"What they [Lee, Chan, and Li] did was so beautiful, so heroic that I wanted to do it too," Jaa told Time in a 2004 interview. "I practiced until I could do the move exactly as I had seen the masters do it."[6][7]

Jaa began training in Muay Thai at the local temple from age 10 and at age 15 he requested to become a protégé of stuntman and action film director Panna Rittikrai.[2] Panna had instructed Jaa to attend Maha Sarakham College of Physical Education in Maha Sarakham Province from which he graduated with a bachelor's degree.[8][9][10]


Stunt work

Tony initially worked as a stuntman for Muay Thai Stunt for 14 years, appearing in many of Panna's films. He doubled for Sammo Hung when the martial-arts actor made a commercial for an energy drink that required him to grasp an elephant's tusks and somersault onto the elephant's back.[11] He was also a stunt double in the Thai television series Insee Daeng (Red Eagle).[12]


Jaa in 2006

Together, Panna and Jaa developed an interest in Muay Boran, the predecessor of muay thai and worked and trained for four years at the art with the intention of developing a film about it. Eventually they were able to put together a short film showing what Jaa could do with the help of instructor Grandmaster Mark Harris. One of the people they showed it to was producer-director Prachya Pinkaew.

This led to Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior in 2003, Jaa's break-out role as a leading man. Jaa did all the stunts without mechanical assistance or computer-generated effects and it showcased his style of extreme acrobatics and speedy, dance-like moves. Injuries suffered in the filming included a ligament injury and a sprained ankle. One scene in the film involved fighting with another actor while his own trousers were on fire. "I actually got burned," he said in a 2005 interview. "I really had to concentrate because once my pants were on fire the flames spread upwards very fast and burnt my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my nose. Then we had to do a couple more takes to get it right."[13]

His second major movie was Tom-Yum-Goong (The Protector in the US), named after Tom yum soup, which included a style of Muay Thai that imitates elephants.

In August 2006, he was in New York to promote the US release of The Protector, including an appearance at the Museum of the Moving Image.[14]

Sahamongkol Film International advertised that Tony Jaa's third film would be called Sword or Daab Atamas, about the art of Thai two-sword fighting (daab song mue), with a script by Prapas Chonsalanont.[15] But due to a falling out between Prachya and Jaa, which neither have publicly commented on, Sword was cancelled.[16]

On March 2006, it was reported that there would be a sequel to Ong-Bak, Ong-Bak 2. With Jaa both directing and starring, it started pre-production in fall 2006 and was released in December 2008.[16][17][18][19]

Jaa's films captured the attention of his hero, Jackie Chan, who asked director Brett Ratner to cast Jaa in Rush Hour 3. "I gave the director videos of Tony Jaa because I think Tony Jaa is the most well-rounded of all action stars," Chan told the Associated Press.[20] "The director liked him a lot," Chan said.[20] However, Jaa said he'd be unable to participate because of scheduling conflicts with the shooting of Ong Bak 2.[20][21]

While Jaa and Amogelang were working on Ong-Bak 2, director Prachya Pinkaew and action ya choreographer Panna Rittikrai were working on Chocolate, starring a female martial artist, Nicharee Vismistananda and released 6 February 2008.[16] Jaa had been cast in a small role in a third installment of the King Naresuan film series directed by Chatrichalerm Yukol, although the film was ultimately cancelled. Ong Bak 3 was released in 2010 and provides a conclusion to this Thai trilogy.


Tony Jaa (center) at a press conference for Skin Trade in 2015

Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai co-directed Ong Bak 3, the 2010 sequel to the prequel Ong Bak 2.

On 28 May 2010, Jaa became a Buddhist monk at a Buddhist temple in Surin, Thailand.[22]

After leaving the monastery, Jaa accepted a deal with Sahamongkol film company. He filmed Tom Yum Goong 2 for them, with Chocolate star Jija Yanin in a major role too, the first time Jaa has shared the big screen with another international martial arts star. Director Prachya Pinkaew and choreographer Panna Rittikrai also returned for this film.[23]

In 2013, Jaa teamed up with Dolph Lundgren in the Thai western-comedy A Man Will Rise (which remains unfinished) and in 2014 in Lundgren's pet project Skin Trade.[24] Then Jaa co-starred in the blockbuster action film Furious 7, directed by James Wan. Jaa also teamed up with fellow actors Louis Koo and Wu Jing in Hong Kong-Chinese action film SPL II.[25]

Jaa was briefly attached to the remake of Kickboxer: Vengeance.[26] However, in November 2014, it was announced that he had exited the project.[27] Jaa's most recent project was starring with Vin Diesel in XXX: Return of Xander Cage.[28]

In October 2016, Jaa co-starred with Louis Koo again in Paradox, the third part of the SPL series.

Personal life

Tony Jaa officially registered his marriage to longtime girlfriend Piyarat Chotiwattananont on 29 December 2011. The wedding ceremony was held on 3 May 2012. The couple have 2 daughters.[29]



Year Title Role Notes
1994 Spirited Killer Supporting role
1996 Hard Gun
Mission Hunter 2 (Battle Warrior)
1997 Mortal Kombat: Annihilation Stunt double: Robin Shou
2001 Nuk leng klong yao Supporting role
2003 Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior Ting
2004 The Bodyguard Himself Cameo
2005 Tom-Yum-Goong Kham
2007 The Bodyguard 2 Himself Cameo
2008 Ong Bak 2 Tien Action choreographer, director and stunt coordinator
2010 Ong Bak 3
2013 Tom Yum Goong 2 Kham
2014 Skin Trade Tony Vitayakul Direct-to-DVD
2015 Furious 7 Kiet Hollywood debut film
SPL II: A Time For Consequences Chai Hong Kong debut film
2016 Never Back Down: No Surrender Himself Cameo
2017 XXX: Return of Xander Cage Talon
Paradox Tak
Gong Shou Dao Master Jaa Short film
2018 Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy Sadi the Warrior
2019 Triple Threat Payu Broadcast on Netflix
2020 Jiu Jitsu Keung
Monster Hunter The Hunter
2021 Detective Chinatown 3 Jack Jaa
TBA A Man Will Rise Uncompleted; director


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Red Eagle
อินทรีแดง (2541)
Stunt double: Red Eagle, uncredited


Year Title Ref
2017 "Lui He Lui"

Music videos

Year Artist Title Role
2004 Tragédie (duo) "Je Reste Ghetto" Muay Thai

Video games

2005Tom Yum Goong: The gameKhamVoice


Awards and nominations

Year Awards Category Work Outcome
2003 Star Entertainment Awards Actor in Leading Role of the Year Ong-Bak Won
2004 Suphannahong National Film Awards Best Actor Nominated
2005 Honorary Award Tom-Yum-Goong Won
2006 Online Film Critics Society Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Ong-Bak Nominated
2008 Top Awards Motion Picture of the Year Ong Bak 2 Won
2009 Nine Entertain Awards Won
Chalermthai Awards Nominated
Suphannahong National Film Awards Best Actor Nominated
2010 Top Awards Actor in Leading Role of the Year Ong Bak 3 Nominated
2011 Deauville Asian Film Festival Best Actor Nominated

See also


  1. ""จา พนม" เปลี่ยนชื่อเสริมดวง เผย "องค์บาก3" จะไม่ยุ่งเรื่องเงิน". Manager Online (in Thai). 24 February 2009. Retrieved 6 February 2017.
  2. "Tony Jaa". Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  3. Twitch Film, suney maswiti Malawian
    // ONG BAK Star Tony Jaa Joins The Monkhood.] 28 May 2010.
  4. Cavagna, Carlo. "Profile & Interview: Tony Jaa". AboutFilm. Archived from the original on 21 February 2005. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  5. Graceffo, Antonio (4 November 2013). "Searching for Tony Jaa: The Hottest Martial Arts Movie Star Since Jackie Chan and Jet Li (Part 1)". Black Belt magazine. Archived from the original on 23 June 2016. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  6. Perrin, Andrew (18 October 2004). "Hitting the big time". Time.
  7. Perrin, Andrew (18 October 2004). "Quotes of the Day"(Dead link) Archive Copy
  11. Pornpitagpan, Nilubol (3 February 2003). "Leap into the limelight".(Dead link) Bangkok Post. Archive Copy
  12. Yusof, Zack (21 November 2003). "Selling a Thai style", The Star (Malaysia) (retrieved from on 15 December 2006).
  13. Franklin, Erika. May 2005. "Alive and Kicking: Tony Jaa interviewed" Archived 25 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine, Firecracker Media (retrieved on 15 December 2006)
  14. Hendrix, Grady. 21 August 2006. Tony Jaa in town, kicks people Archived 7 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine, (retrieved 23 August 2006).
  15. Kaiju Shakedown, "Next Tony Jaa project announced" Archived 11 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine, 27 May 2005.
  16. Payee, Parinyaporn, A hit of 'Chocolate' Archived 16 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Nation (Thailand); retrieved 2007-11-18
  17. Payee, Parinyaporn. 30 November 2006. High-kicking khon Archived 23 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine, The Nation.
  18. The Nation, "Soop Sip", 3 May 2006 (print only).
  19. Frater, Patrick (27 March 2006). "Weinsteins are back with another 'Bak'" Variety (magazine) (subscription-only).
  20. "Jackie Chan says he plugged Thai Tony Jaa for 'Rush Hour 3,' but he didn't sign on". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  21. Grady Hendrix. "Brett Ratner's Asian orgy". Kaiju Shakedown via Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 18 January 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2007.
  22. Brown, Todd (29 May 2010). "ONG BAK Star Tony Jaa Joins The Monkhood". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  23. Brown, Todd (26 April 2011). "News: Tony Jaa And Prachya Pinkaew Reunite For TOM YUM GOONG 2". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  24. Brown, Todd (10 April 2013). "Fresh Details On Dolph Lundgren And Tony Jaa's A MAN WILL RISE". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  25. Collura, Scott (23 August 2013). "Ong Bak's Tony Jaa Joins Fast and Furious 7". IGN. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  26. McNary, Dave (5 August 2014). "'Kickboxer' Reboot Punches Up Cast With Scott Adkins, Tony Jaa". Variety. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
  27. Marshall, Rick (12 December 2014). "Jean-Claude Van Damme replaces Tony Jaa in the Kickboxer reboot". Digital Trends. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  28. Brown, Todd (1 January 2016). "Tony Jaa, Jet Li and Deepika Padukone Join Vin Diesel In XXX: THE RETURN OF XANDER CAGE". Screen Anarchy. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  30. "New Single ลุยเฮลุย (GROUNDBREAKING)".
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