Scenic Routes: Tony Jaa makes running away from a fight look like the coolest thing ever

In Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo looks at key scenes, explaining how they work and what they mean.

When famed Thai martial artist Tony Jaa turned up in Furious 7 earlier this year, I confess that I failed to recognize him. In part, that’s because his big fight scene—on the bus that ends up going over a cliff—is opposite Paul Walker, and I was unproductively preoccupied throughout the movie with trying to determine where Walker had been doubled and/or his face had been digitally inserted. But it’s also because I mentally associate Jaa not so much with hand-to-hand combat (even though that’s what he’s primarily known for) as with insane feats of solo athleticism, which he doesn’t get to demonstrate in Furious 7. Plenty of actors can skillfully simulate beating the crap out of other actors, with varying degrees of skill and …

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