Hitting the Big Time

When Tony Jaa's film producer met him for the first time, she thought he was "ugly" and "couldn't act." His image consultant now says Jaa is "uncool" and is urging him to get a new haircut. His English teacher despairs that two years of lessons have yielded little more than a rudimentary grasp of the language. Listen to his minders long enough, and you may start doubting the buzz that Jaa is Southeast Asia's long-overdue answer to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan.

Until you see Jaa in action. In a cavernous room on the third floor of a...

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