In the early 2000s it felt to some as if the martial arts genre had taken a downturn - superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li were both trying to make a go of it in America, with varying degrees of success, and the market appeared to have stagnated. What was sorely needed was a new star - an unknown rising talent to wow audiences with gravity-defying fighting prowess. Tony Jaa more than delivered these requirements in 2003's Ong-Bak, a Thai production heralded immediately as Jaa's breakout performance, catapulting him onto the international stage. The comparisons with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li came thick and fast, and it's easy to see why - while Ong-Bak is certainly no great shakes in the storytelling department (narrative, after all, is never the strong point of a martial arts movie), Jaa's riveting, energetic performance is something to behold, introducing audiences to his brand of Muay Thai (the ancient style Muay Boran) in all its bone-crunching glory. The opening knee to the face in itself is enough to set the stage for the incredible fights which follow. Tony Jaa's subsequent films never quite reached the same impressive levels, and in 2010 he retired to a Buddhist monastery. But fans needn't worry - he has since signaled his return to acting, and will be appearing in a movie with Dolph Lundgren as well as Fast and Furious 7. We'll have to wait and see if Hollywood squanders or makes the most of his unique talent.