Tony Jaa Retires from Acting to Become a Monk

It’s been a strange journey for Thai action star Tony Jaa over the past 7 or 8 years. After starting his career as a stunt double, he exploded onto the scene with his first starring role in Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, a movie that caught everyone’s attention with its visceral fight scenes and dangerous stunts. From here he seemed destined to become the next big martial arts star, and followed up Ong-Bak with Tom yum goong aka The Protector. When he decided to take things to to the next level by directing the sequel to Ong Bak himself, however, that’s when it all started to fall apart.

During the shooting of Ong Bak 2, the pressure became too much for Jaa and he disappeared from the set for two months before eventually being located by his mentor Panna Rittikrai and talked into returning. He finished up work on that film and hastily shot a sequel, but now, he has apparently had enough. According to various sources, he has officially withdrawn from the world by riding an elephant to a Buddhist temple in Surin, Thailand, and taken vows to become a monk.

It’s unclear how long he plans to remain at the temple for, but the general belief seems to be that it is not a permanent decision. Either way, I guess this explains the cliffhanger ending to Ong Bak 2; apparently Jaa agreed to split up the movie into two films in order to recoup the losses from his two month retreat (possibly under threat of violence from the production company). Ong Bak 3 has not yet been released in North America, but apparently it wasn’t that well received in Thailand. Personally I think Jaa’s own story is a lot more interesting than the Ong Bak series, but I guess I’m curious to see how wacky the third film can get. Are you a Tony Jaa fan? Do you think he’ll return to acting eventually or is his movie career over?

  • rob

    is this the thai version of Joaquin Phoenix’s conversion to rap

  • Big Hungry

    rob… you stole my thunder… so true. where is casey affleck?

  • rob

    “the killer inside me” stars casey affleck and is out in the UK this week

  • Jason

    A man (often Oriental) leaving the frustrating world annoying his mind and deciding to rest with the monks feels familiar…but only in films. The recent one i can think about it was in was Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…and Spring. Ace Ventura is also one, along with many asian kung-fu flicks.

    Btw, you guys don’t mind me using the term Oriental, just like Caucasian and Negro?

  • TheAllKnowingGod

    Surely to retire something you’d have to start first?

  • Slushie Man

    There goes my top pick for Lui Kang in a Mortal Kombat remake…

  • Kamen Liew

    Tony Jaa had a meltdown and did a “Dave Chappelle”, now someone else is going to do the same thing and we’d call it doing a “Tony Jaa”.

    There must be an official term somewhere for these types of breakdowns. Someone pls enlighten me.

  • Sounds to me that this is a set-up for a movie remake:

    RAMBO III – warrior goes off to a temple for a life of peaceful servitude, his mentor comes to visit needing the warriors help going in to a hostile Afghanistan?!, the hero refuses only to hear his mentor has been captured?!

    Tony Jaa to end the Afghan conflict, kill Bin Laden!!!!

  • this is basically the TV show I dreamed of as a 10 year old!

  • L

    I hope he finds peace.

  • Marta

    Tony Jaa is one of the most charismatic, talented action stars to have come along is decades.

    I’m pretty cynical when it comes to people’s religious “awakenings” after a high-profile scandal– look at US politicians! But in this case, Jaa seems sincere.

    From my experience, Hollywood film business can be nasty, competitive and soul-destroying. I imagine that the same goes for the film industry in Thailand.

    Hopefully he just needs a few months to get emotionally cleansed, and will return to films. But if not, I hope he finds peace.

  • David Cartee

  • Daniel

    Tony Jaa amazed me in ong baak2 the skill he possesed with his fighting is amazing. I believe he may be the next Chuck Norris, Stevan Segal, or Jett Lee. I wish him peace, but also wish his story does not end at the monastary.

  • tony jaa is really an outstanding actor. I have seen ong bak 1, more than 10 times. My entire family is his fan.I just want to meet him one day.The last thing i have to say is Happy Birthday.I am very happy that you became a monk.

  • victor terrero

    According to Tony Jaa from a recent statement from him he is no longer a Buddhist Monk as of this year.

  • cJinL

    Jesus, were you born in 1950? Oriental and negro have clearly been considered politically incorrect for years. Even caucasian, while still used, is a silly term that doesn’t actually make any sense.