The last time we checked in with Tony Jaa, he was alternately tearful and demanding. The acrobatic Thai martial arts star of Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior and The Protector walked off the set of his big-budget directing debut, Ong-Bak 2 (which is not, despite its title, a direct sequel), and disappeared into the jungle earlier this year, reemerging two months later amidst press conferences and legal recriminations.
Among other things, Jaa demanded more money to be added to the budget
and the hiring of his friend, veteran action choreographer and director Panna Rittikrai *. The production company wanted Prachya Pinkaew, who directed Jaa in Ong-Bak and The Protector before the two had a falling out, to step in and oversee the completion of the film. At least some of Jaa's demands must have been met, since he returned to work, more money was poured into the production, and Rittikrai came on board.
Was all the trouble worth it? Judge for yourself. The film is on track to meet its release date of December 4 and a trailer is playing in local cinemas, reports Wise Kwai's Thai Film Journal. He found the trailer on YouTube and notes: "It's really best seen on the big screen. I can't describe well enough how great I think it looks." We've posted the trailer after the jump.
He also linked to a Daily Xpress article, in which Panna Rittikrai "says the conflict arose because Jaa lacked the experience to handle such a large project but adds that despite their closeness, they haven't discussed the problems in detail. 'All I know is that he wants this film to be a masterpiece and I think you'll see that in the end product," he says."
The Weinstein Co. evidently still has North American distribution rights, but the film doesn't appear on their official web site, so it may be headed direct to DVD via their Dragon Dynasty label, though it doesn't appear there, either. In the meantime, the official Ong Bak 2 site is up and running, where you can view what I believe is the teaser (not the latest trailer).
[Via Kaiju Shakedown]
* Updated 10/26/08. Thanks to Wise Kwai for correcting my misunderstanding of Tony Jaa's demands. See his comment below (#2) for clarification.