There was much rejoicing this week when 'Fast and Furious 7' opened in Thai cinemas after being threatened with possible legal action, and no one could be happier than our own Jaa Phanom Yeerum, better known as Tony Jaa.
The martial-arts actor, whose contract dispute with Sahamongkol Film International had prompted the studio to try and halt the “Furious 7” screenings, makes his Hollywood debut in the car-chase franchise. He was in Los Angeles for the gala premiere at the landmark TCL Chinese Theatre, where he performed backflips for photographers, signed autographs and schmoozed with his co-stars.
“I had a great time at the ‘Fast’ premier. It was great meeting so many fans and getting together with the cast again. I was so proud to bring Thailand to Hollywood,” Jaa posted on Facebook with plenty of photos.
His messages are in both English and Thai, showing that he’s eager to reach out to fans both at home and abroad.
Compliments poured in from those who have seen the movie.
“Now that I see you are in ‘Furious 7’ and how you played your character, I just love it,” wrote Canadian Milad Alemi, who has been a die-hard fan of Jaa’s since “Ong-Bak”. “I wish you nothing but success and good fortune in the future. You are an amazing inspiration,” Alemi added, just before heading out the door to go watch the movie again.
Another fan, Kenji Le, wrote, “I just watched ‘Furious 7’ with my family today, and … I think you'll have more fans or people who are more aware of who you are. I loved how they wrote your character and showcased your skills. What I loved most about the movie, was when the crowd was shocked in awe of your flexibility and skills.”
One of Jaa’s photos showed him in a firm embrace with “Furious” leading man Vin Diesel.
“Vin’s performance in ‘Fast 7’ is just incredible. I am proud to have been part of this film,” Jaa wrote on the image, which garndered more than 110,000 “likes” and prompted a Thai fan to ask Jaa what’s on Vin’s neck?
“Something I gave him when we were shooting,” Jaa replies, explaining the Buddha amulet given to Diesel more than a year ago, and Vin is still wearing it. So they really must be brothers.