Muay Thai Movies: top 5 classic and modern martial arts films

A classic and a modern Muay Thai movies

No one else popularized - at least not in the 80's - Thailand and Thai martial arts in the Western world like Jean Claude van Damme did. Number one of my list is obviously a "Kickboxer" with "the muscles from Brussels". The dark side to this 1989 movie is that people often confuse Muay Thai with Kickboxing (read more about Muay Thai vs Kickboxing) up till this day and most regular folks do not see any difference between them. Still, there are more pros than cons to this situation and the original Kickboxer became the 80's classic and increased interest in Kickboxing and martial arts in general. It was a major step to introduce Thailand and Thai boxing to the wider audience. Take a look at a list of Thai martial arts films that have influenced martial arts cinema.

Kickboxer: The Vengeance [2016]

And since I have mentioned the original flick now it's the time to talk about the newest Kickboxer: Vengeance. The strong points of this Muay Thai movie are definitely the cast: our old friend "muscles from Brussels" Van Damme and few of the best MMA fighter like George St Pierre and "Shogun" Rua and also - just for a few seconds - one of my favorite K1 fighter and kickboxer Joseph "Bazooka Joe" Valtellini. Another cool thing about it - at least for some - is that cheesy 80's atmosphere and feeling about this film. And I really liked the main villain - or the big boss if you prefer - the ultimate killing machine Tong Po. I do not want to spoil the ending for you but the "good guy" will prevail eventually. The film is cheesy and it didn't score well on imdb but it is still worth watching if you are interested in martial arts and if you liked the first one. Especially since there is not too many Muay Thai movies made in Hollywood in general and the subject is still untapped.

Only God Forgives [2013]

Only God Forgives is not one of the typical martial arts films. It is more of a drama, a slightly sophisticated film about a clash of cultures. And some mommy issues too. That said it still consists of some Muay Thai fighting scenes and it revolves around a subject o fighting and offers a large amount of violence. It is a completely different pair of shoes that Kickboxer movies but I think it is worth watching. Those who lived in Thailand will find some interesting concepts and a thick atmosphere of Bangkok in it and those who never visited it will have a chance to understand it more from both: the white man and the Thai man perspective. Give it a try and I think you will not regret it - this is one of the most interesting Muay Thai movies.

Muay Thai Chaiya [2007]

Muay Thai Chaiya is a Thai martial art movie about two childhood friends who went separate paths in their lives. As you expect the film climax will take place in the ring where the main protagonist will have to face the ruthless foreign fighter. You can expect a lot of action and a no-nonsense Muay Boran fighting scenes. This is also your chance to watch a legendary fighter Samart Payakaroon, multiple time Lumpinee Stadium champion, on the big screen.

"Every part of the body can be a weapon"

Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior [2003]

Tony Jaa is a martial arts cinema legend who, just like Jackie Chan, does the stunts in his movies. In Ong Bak he plays a villager who comes to a big city to recover the ancient artifact stolen from his village. Upon arriving his cousin gets him in trouble and he gets involved into an underground fighting tournament. Well, the plot is very simple but this is kind of the movie that you want to watch for a nicely choreographed fighting scenes and for Tony Jaa if you are his fan and admirer of his skills.

So this was a selection of my favorite Muay Thai movies. If you think some other films should be on this list then let me know and I may update it in the future. If you are also interested in video games you may want to read Muay Thai Games post.

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