August 21, 2006


Tonyjaa2 Tony Jaa (ONG BAK) strutted his stuff at the Museum of the Moving Image yesterday, giving a martial arts demo before a screening of THE PROTECTOR (aka TOM YUM GOONG). I didn't stick around for the movie, but the demo was good stuff although it was over before it began. Taking place on a portable dance floor set up in a parking lot behind the museum (they called it "the courtyard" but if I'm standing on asphalt within ten yards of a dumpster then it's a parking lot) and a surprisingly large number of folks showed up, formed a humid little crowd and waited for Tony, who finally made an appearance in a natty white outfit. Graceful and gracious, as he always is in these public appearances, he did a lot of bowing and smiling, a few forms, and then proceeded to make an attempt to pound his stuntmen through the ground with his feet. As someone pointed out, if filmmakers could capture a tenth of charisma and charm that Tony Jaa demonstrates in live appearances on film then he'd be a Jackie Chan-sized celebrity already.

Unfortunately, after a few kicks and punches and an abortive attempt to kick signed soccer balls into the audience (called off by the museum staff, it seemed, who probably had images of the liability issues involved when someone got decapitated by a flying ball), there was a contest to win some of the soccer balls. "Name the other Tony Jaa movies!" an eager MC shouted. There was silence. "There's two of them," someone volunteered. Silence. Crickets chirped. Now this was weird. He's only made two movies that have been released in the US, and the audience was there to see one of them. And I think it's a fair bet that if they've come out on a sweaty Sunday to see the second Tony Jaa movie then they've probably seen the first one. But no. And so the increasingly desperate MC tried "How many elephants are in Tony Jaa's THE PROTECTOR?" More silence. Finally they gave up and just threw the ball into the crowd - to great cheers - the demonstration was over and everyone headed indoors to watch the movie.

The screening was sold out, which is either a good thing or a bad thing. From a glass half full point of view, it's a good thing showing that lots of people are interested seeing THE PROTECTOR. From the glass half empty point of view, the entire audience for THE PROTECTOR just saw it at the Museum of the Moving Image and they won't be seeing it when it's released in theaters. Fortunately, lots of kids were in the crowd and I hope they saw the movie because according to the TV ads for THE PROTECTOR (and there are a lot of them airing, which is nice to see), the flick is rated R so absolutely no one under 18 will be admitted. I guess you can get an R for depicting graphic violence or for having Tony Jaa in a movie, since ONG BAK was R-rated, as well. What is it about Tony that causes the ratings folks to see R-ed?

And, in the meantime, a trailer on YouTube featuring lots of fight footage from Tony Jaa and Panna Rittikrai's SPIRITED KILLER, which is way better than being a DISPIRITED KILLER, will tide you over until THE PROTECTOR's release.

August 21, 2006 at 03:56 PM in News | Permalink


You're in NY Grady?

I was almost gonna go to this but then I figured since the showing was sold out, there was no reason to travel all the way over there to see demo and then leave. So I didn't go.

Posted by: the running man | Aug 21, 2006 5:43:04 PM

This is not accurate: "the flick is rated R so absolutely no one under 18 will be admitted." The beauty of the R-rating in America is that all the kids will be intrigued and pretend to be each other's accompanying guardian (over the age of 17, not 18) and/or recruit college-aged siblings to go, and/or bribe ticket clerks with offers of illegally-purchased alcohol.

Not that I'm endorsing any of these things.

Posted by: Peter Martin | Aug 23, 2006 9:13:23 AM

You mean people under the age of 18 might be able to see an R-rated movie?!? This isn't the America I grew up in!

Posted by: Grady Hendrix | Aug 23, 2006 9:20:14 AM

Hi Running_man,

Is it possible you you are in NYC, read this blog, yet you didn't attend Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Fest? Or maybe you did attend the fest, but you didn't realize that the crazy guy up on stage doing the ultra-hyper intros (and sometimes while wearing nothing but shoes, socks and an adult diaper) was Grady? In any case, since Grady has not yet answered your question, I will... Yes, he's in NYC. And like me, he's one of the founder/director's of NYAFF.

Posted by: Paul | Aug 23, 2006 10:52:12 AM

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