So last year with Chocolate star Jija Yannin making her debut at Midnight Madness, I did a little series, “Ladies of Asskickery,” posting clips of Cheng Pei-Pei, Sue Shiomi / Shihomi Etsuko and Angela Mao Ying. With Ong-Bak 2: The Beginning set to kick all ass at TIFF, it’s time to look at some Gentlemen of Asskickery.
Panna Rittikrai is probably best known to most Madness fans as Tony Jaa’s guru and the martial arts choreographer for Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector) and the co-director of Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, but he’s also made over 50 movies in the 1980s and 1990s with his Muay Thai Stunt Team. And he didn’t do it in Bangkok. Influenced by Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, he moved back to Khon Kaen making zero budget movies built around what the human body can do. Well, what Panna Rittikrai, Tony Jaa and Dan Chupong can do.
“You’ve probably never heard of my movies….They are popular among taxi drivers and som tam vendors and security guards and Isaan coolies. My loyalest fans are folk people in the far-out tambons, where they lay out mattresses on the ground and drink moonshine whisky while watching my outdoor movies.”
So here’s Panna Rittikrai training in Muay Thai Stunt’s first film Kerd Ma Lui/ Born to Fight (1986). (Also written, directed by and starrying Panna Rittikrai and recently remade with Muay Thai Stunt member, Dan Chupong). Recognize any influences?
This post was originally published on the official 2009 Midnight Madness program blog at the Toronto International Film Festival.