Thai studio Sahamongkol Film International has unveiled details of the second film from Ong-Bak star Tony Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew, in which the Australian underworld gets a taste of Thai-style kickboxing.

Called Tom Yum Goong, after the spicy Thai soup, the US$4m action comedy is scheduled to start shooting in Australia in March. Jaa plays the hero, Kham, who rushes off from Thailand to Australia to rescue his sister - who is supposed to be studying under a fellowship programme - from the clutches of the Vietnamese mafia.

"Ong-Bak showed the birth of Muay Thai [Thai martial arts] and explained everything about our culture. This second film takes it across the water into an international setting,"' said Prachya speaking at the Bangkok International Film Festival on Friday.

The film, which has been in pre-production for almost a year, is fully financed by Sahamongkol with assistance from the Tourist Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways. The Australian Embassy and Ministry of Tourism are also helping to set the film up.

Production will take place in both Sydney and Bangkok with release scheduled for early next year. Hong Kong-based sales agent Golden Network Asia has already pre-sold the film to Medusa in the UK and Gaga Communications in Japan.

Ong-Bak, the first film from Jaa and Prachya, was a huge hit in Thailand last year and has sold widely around the world with Luc Besson's Europa Corp picking up a slew of Western rights. Edko Films is scheduled to release the film in Hong Kong on February 19.