Tony Jaa Drops Out Of Fung's KICKBOXER

It was approximately four months ago that international action star Tony Jaa was on deck to possibly star in Tai Chi 0 helmer Stephen Fung's forthcoming production of Kickboxer from Radar Pictures, a remake of the 1989 martial arts tournament thriller officially announced a year and a half ago. Since then, casting continued with some missteps along the way while boasting what appeared to be an otherwise promising slate of names joining actor, martial artist and stuntman Alain Moussi for his hopeful lead debut as a Fall 2014 shoot neared, and now with the year approaching its end, it appears the production has hit another bump.

Jaa's manager, Mike Selby, has informed Film Combat Syndicate that the actor has officially withdrawn from the production, stating "The production changed schedule to a period where Jaa would not be available.". Whatever the case may be, it looks like a pretty scary pattern for this particular project, especially after losing fellow potential co-star Scott Adkins back in September citing script issues. More recently, Jaa reiterated his involvement in the film's production roughly a week and a half ago in an interview with MAAC.

In our exclusive report back in July, Jaa was in talks to star in the new film in a supporting role similar to that of actor Dennis Chan's performance fifteen years earlier, as Xian Chow, the reluctant master who would ultimately take in protagonist, Kurt Sloan, to train him in a grueling regimen to help meet the necessary criteria to qualify as a Muay Thai fighter, ultimately to avenge the death of his brother, David, at the hands of merciless fighter, Tong Po. Other names aside from Adkins, such as actor and martial artist Georges St. Pierre (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and actor/wrestler Dave Bautista (Guardians Of The Galaxy) were also mentioned throughout the year with the latter tapped to play the villain.

The film does carries some promising tunes as a remake for a new generation of fans that know who Jaa is, and would have surely found a way to deliver such a film in a celebratory fashion harkening back to the authentic fight flicks of yesteryear. It still looks like Bautista is in, although now that the film has lost two of its biggest prospects, what remains to be seen is whether or not the production will be able to find two more actors with the same action star power. It's possible, but it's unfortunate that Jaa's fans now have to count him out.

Jaa is still expected to earn some high marks next year with the releases of Furious 7 and director Ekchai Uekrongtham's international thriller, Skin Trade. As for Fung's Kickboxer, only time will tell, and hopefully we will get some good news in the not too distant future about it, although original franchise director Albert Pyun's return to the Kickboxer ring seems to be weaving together just fine.

Stay tuned for more info.

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