48 HOURS: You're going to star in the upcoming Hong Kong film SPL II: A Time for Consequences . How much of it is going to be set in Thailand? TONY JAA: I'd say around 80 per cent. The majority of the story takes place in Thailand. Are there going to be elephants in it? That's your signature after all. [ Laughs ] I hope so, but I don't know yet. What appeals to you about this project? I've been a big fan of Chinese martial arts movies since I was a kid, and I practised really hard in my rural home after watching them. It's my dream to come and make a film in Hong Kong. I'd watched the first SPL before I read the script for the new film. There's much room for me to express myself in it — apart from the fight scenes, there are also drama scenes that deal with my character's thoughts and emotions. What's your character like? I play a prison guard whose daughter is suffering from leukaemia and waiting for a bone marrow transplant. He's doing everything to look for a donor, and he has to protect not just his daughter but the person who could help her. So the role is about what a father would do to save his daughter. What do you think is the greatest difference between shooting a Thai production and a Hong Kong one? I heard before that Hong Kong movies expected the actors to do all their own stunts, but once I got here I realised that's not the case. Although injuries can still happen, it's safer than Thai filmmaking, which requires the actors to hit each other for real. I did a four-minute-long take in a Thai film that saw me fight my way up several floors. That gave me a really hard time. By contrast, Hong Kong filmmakers use camera angles and editing to achieve what they want. It's much more comfortable shooting here. Many consider that four-minute fight sequence you mentioned - from Tom Yum Goong (2005) - a classic in Asian action. My intention then was to create the longest fight sequence possible. I was determined to accomplish it — and so I did. The preparation for that took two weeks. It's a well-known fact that you started watching Hong Kong films when you were a kid. What are your best memories? I really like Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Chow Yun-fat and Stephen Chow Sing-chi. They have all been my heroes. I have to thank Hong Kong cinema for inspiring me. If you were to fight Bruce Lee in his prime, who would win? He's a hero — let's not talk about who the better fighter is. Whenever I encounter difficulties in executing certain moves on the film set, I think back to Bruce Lee and the way he pulled off his moves. I find motivation in him. Would you agree that you essentially play the same character in most of your films? There's a bunch of action movie fans out there who demand that I play this kind of character. It's like Bruce Lee, his side kick was what everyone looked forward to seeing, and if he stopped doing that he'd be disappointing his audience. In my case, people are waiting to watch my knee drop and elbow assault every time. It's not for me to say no to them. Apart from SPL 2 , Fast & Furious 7 is another film of yours that will open in 2015. Can you tell us about your role? I can't talk right now; it's a secret. I'm just very glad to be participating in a Hollywood production. I'd like to tell you more but, if I do, someone's going to kill me. You became a Buddhist monk in 2010, only returning to the screen last year with Tom Yum Goong 2 . What happened there? I've been a monk for about five years now, and my objective was to recharge myself. In Thailand, men have to become either a soldier or a monk to mature — those are our traditional rites of passage. It's a period during which I talked to Buddha a lot. Once I became a monk, my fortune suddenly turned for the better. I mean, now I'm making films in Hong Kong and Hollywood!