Killer thriller

Tony Jaa jumps into action

By Tatat Bunnag
Photos by Varuth Hirunyatheb
and courtesy of SC Films

Did you know

Skin Trade is a Thai-Canadian co-production.

Action star Japanom Yeerum, better known as Tony Jaa, is one of the few Thai actors to make a global impact. The martial arts star, famous for films like Ong-Bak and Tom-Yum Goong, recently had a role in the Hollywood blockbuster Furious 7.

Since that breakthrough, Tony Jaa has acted in the gritty, action-packed thriller Skin Trade, which also stars Dolph Lundgren, Ron Perlman, Michael Jai White and Celina Jade.

Directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, Skin Trade is about a New York detective who seeks revenge on a Serbian crime boss in charge of a human trafficking syndicate. The case brings the detective to Bangkok, where he attempts to shut down the criminal organisation.

Student Weekly recently went along to the press conference for Skin Trade at Siam Kempinski Hotel to hear Tony Jaa, Celina Jade and Ekachai Uekrongtham talk about the making of the film, now showing at local cinemas.

Question: How did this film project originally come about?

Ekachai: The screenplay and script were written by Dolph Lundgren, who called me one day said that he was impressed by my film, Beautiful Boxer. He wanted me to work on one of his action movie projects. Once I read the script for Skin Trade and heard that Tony Jaa would also be in the film, I said yes right away.

Question: Tony and Celina, can you tell us about your roles in the film?

Tony Jaa: I play a Thai detective who wants to end human trafficking. The story has many twists and turns, and it takes a while for viewers to work out who is good and who’s bad. Dolph also plays a detective whose family is killed by a Serbian gangster involved in human trafficking.

Celina: I play a character named Min. Min had a very difficult past, but she uses her bad experiences to make her stronger. She puts herself in a dangerous situation to help Tony’s character fight the criminals.

Question: Where was Skin Trade filmed?

Ekachai: Most of the film was shot in Thailand, with the remainder in Vancouver. The filming locations in Thailand included Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi Airport, Min Buri district and Muang Thong Thani. We also filmed at Siam Kempinski Hotel, a rice mill, a leather-bleaching factory and an old mansion.

Question: Tony, did you do all your own stunts in this movie?

Tony Jaa: Yes, absolutely. I prefer to do my own stunts. If I didn’t, you wouldn’t really be watching me in the film.

Question: Are there any particularly exciting fight scenes in the movie that you can tell us about?

Tony Jaa: There’s a cool scene where I fight Michael Jai White. He’s an amazingly talented fighter and an expert in seven styles of martial arts. His body is also huge, so our fight scene reminded me of the famous fight between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in The Way of the Dragon.

Question: Why shoould Thai action movie fans not miss Skin Trade?

Ekachai: Most of the crew on this production was Thai, and we’ve proven that we can make a Hollywood-standard movie in Thailand. We also used the special effects team that worked on The Expendables, so we can guarantee that Skin Trade is a top-quality action film.

Tony Jaa: I’m really proud to have worked on this project. It’s like another opening into the international film world. Skin Trade is different from any film that I’ve done before. I play an in-depth character that has dramatic scenes, lots of dialogue and even a love scene! [Laughs.]

Vocabulary

  • killer (adj): something that is very exciting, difficult or skilful
    global (adj): affecting the whole world
    breakthrough (n): an important development that may lead to an achievement
    gritty (adj): showing something unpleasant as it really is
    syndicate (n): a group of people or companies who work together and help each other in order to achieve a particular aim
    case (n): a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police
    opening (n): a good opportunity for somebody
    in-depth (adj): very thorough and detailed
    dialogue (n): conversations in a book, play or film
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