7 Muay Thai Movies That Will Rock Your World

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muay thai movies

You love Muay Thai. You love movies. Therefore you love Muay Thai movies… right?!?! Not necessarily.  

During the lockdown, we soldiered our way through literally dozens of Muay Thai movies – from excellent to downright terrible – and we’ve lived to tell you about it.

This article will provide you with a list of quality Muay Thai movies lovingly curated by the team here at Way of the Fighter, so sit back, relax and get the popcorn ready.  

And in the spirit of Muay Thai, our star rating comes in the form of uppercuts – five uppercuts meaning a knockout and one uppercut meaning a no contest.

Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior

ong bak movie

This movie from 2003 was one of Thailand’s few films to make it to theatres in North America. 

For many fans of martial arts movies outside of Thailand who were well versed with Kung Fu movies thanks to Bruce Lee, this film provided a first glimpse of the power of Muay Thai. 

The movie tells the story of a humble young man named Boonting (played by Phanom Yeeram)who lives a simple and pleasant life in a small, slow-paced Thai village.

Boonting’s peaceful existence is shattered when a corrupt and brutal businessman steals a treasured Buddha idol known as Ong Bak from the village.

Boonting leaves his family, including his sick mother, to head into the mean streets of Bangkok to rescue the treasured talisman for his community.

While Boonting is certainly a fish out of water when it comes to adapting to city life during his quest, he certainly makes up for it with his Muay Thai skills which he puts to good use.

Our rating: Five Uppercuts

Muay Thai Warrior

muay thai warrior movie.

Also known as Yamada: Way of the Samurai, his 2013 Japanese-Thai action film tells the historical story of samurai warrior Yamada Nagamasa (played by Seki Oseki) who, double crossed by his treacherous compatriots in 17th century Siam, went on to be adopted and trained in Muay Thai by monks before entering the service of King Naresuan the Great as a fearsome warrior in the royal bodyguard.

The movie features excellent Muay Thai action as well as a storyline of a Japanese adventurer driven by a desire to avenge his injured honor. Martial Arts fans of all fight styles will be impressed by the skills and incredible stunts on display in the amazing fight scenes. 

Our rating: Three Uppercuts.

A Prayer Before Dawn

a prayer before dawn.

This 2017 biographical sports film by renowned production house A24 (responsible for such films as Hereditary, Uncut Gems, and the Tragedy of Macbeth), tells the true story of Billy Moore (played by Joe Cole), a drug-addicted English boxer in Thailand who finds himself in a Thai prison after getting on the wrong side of the law.

He finds the strength to persevere through the gritty environment by participating in Muay Thai tournaments, earning him the respect of his fellow prisoners.

Definitely not for the faint of heart, this is a movie that features real inmates acting in authentic scenes from one of Thailand’s most infamous prisons and the story has a strong message emphasizing the mental benefits of Muay Thai.

Telling the life story of a fighter whose biggest challenge is overcoming his own demons. This movie is a very good movie but not really one made with action movie lovers in mind.

Our rating: Five Uppercuts.


kickboxer movie jean claude van damme

This is a classic 1989 Jean Claude Van Damme American film directed by Mark DiSalle, David Worth.

It’s an action-packed film revolving around American Kurt Sloan, brother of American kickboxing champion Eric Sloan.

In a treacherous turn of events, Eric is left paralyzed after a brutal fight in the ring in Thailand by aggressive fighter and champion Tong Po.

As any red-blooded American would do, Kurt vows revenge on the undefeated fighter Tong Po and seeks the tutelage of a Muay Thai trainer in rural Thailand. 

For many, this was a breakout film, introducing Muay Thai to the masses in North America with brutal action scenes and action stunts. The acting is…ok. Watch this for the action-packed scenes rather than for the storyline.

Our rating: Three Uppercuts

Beautiful Boxer

Along with Muay Thai, spicy food and being a land of smiles, Thailand is also famous for being a country that has pioneered tolerance towards transgendered people.

Beautiful Boxer, released in 2003, is very different from most Martial Arts cinema, and is a biographical sports movie about Parinya Charoenphol (played by real life Muay Thai fighter Asanee Suwan), a Muay Thai fighter whose earnings were used to pay for sexual reassignment surgery. 

As far as Muay Thai movies go, this one is certainly different – and perhaps a bit overly long – but definitely worthwhile as it gives important insights about the culture from which Muay Thai emerged and also breaks the stereotypes surrounding professional fighters. 

Our rating: Four Uppercuts

Buffalo Girls

buffalo girls movie.

We’ve written previously about why Muay Thai for women is an excellent martial art.

But the film Buffalo Girls is a tough documentary from 2012 about two eight-year-old girls from rural Thailand named Stam Sor Con Lek and Pet Chor Chanachai.

Despite their young age, they use Muay Thai to support their families as they compete for a national Muay Thai Championship belt. 

This film is similar to Beautiful Boxer in the sense that it gives some context about Thai culture and both the difficulties and hopes that Muay Thai represents for so many. At a running time of just 62 minutes, this short documentary will stay with you long after the closing credits. 

Our rating: Four Uppercuts

The Protector

the protector movie.

Also known as Tom-Yum-Goong this 2005 film reunites Tony Jaa and director Prachya Pinkaew who collaborated on Ong Bak, and tells a similar story: A man from one place travels to a different place to retrieve something of significant symbolic meaning to his people which has been stolen by sinister bad guys.

Instead of a Buddha head, in this case it is a baby elephant, and instead of traveling to Bangkok, he travels to Australia. Muay Thai action scenes ensue as our hero once again must face incredible odds for his people.

No PhD in Film Studies is required to enjoy this movie. If you’re looking for some escapism that doesn’t require you to think too hard, look no further.

Our rating: Three Uppercuts

Muay Thai Movies Summed Up

So if you love Muay Thai and you love movies, don’t feel obligated to love all Muay Thai movies.

Check out some of the titles above. Whether you are looking to gain some insight into Thai culture, or to marvel at the athleticism of some of the sport’s best athletes, or you just want to unwind with some exciting action, Muay Thai movies have the potential to marry your two passions: Muay Thai and movies. 

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We're a team of fight fans and martial arts practitioners. Many of us have been involved in martial arts our entire lives.