Thailand’s ancient martial art also known as “The Art of The Eight Limbs” has been an integral part of Mixed Martial Arts. In recent times, the martial art has become quite a popular sport and can now be seen on television in the form of the more westernized Glory and Bellator kickboxing organizations and the more traditional form in the Lion Fights organization.
In the last few decades, we’ve seen the rise of the sport on the big screen and here are the time 3 Muay Thai films of all-time.
Not known to the general audience, Chok-Dee is probably one of the most realistic films when it comes to Muay Thai. Starring real life Muay Thai practitioner and champion Dida Diafat, the film follows the fighter’s road into becoming the first French/Algerian Muay Thai champion.
There may be no fancy flips and death defying stunts or split kicks, but this semi-autobiographical film should be part of any Muay Thai practitioner’s shelf. Everything from the training and fights themselves are as realistic as you could get on the screen.
Jean-Claude Van Damme’s breakout hit, the American film came out in 1989 and is now a cult classic. He played the brother Kurt of an American Champion Kickboxer Eric Sloane. Eric travels to Thailand to challenge their top and undefeated champion Tong Po.
Eric was brutally beaten by Tang Po and even paralyzed after the Thai fighter had elbowed him in the back. Kurt vowed to get revenge. But in order to do so he had to pursue the training of a famous trainer Xian Chow.
Through the inspiring training montages, Kurt eventually got his revenge.
A reboot titled Kickboxer: Vengeance is slated to have a limited release this year and once again stars Van Damme along with Georges St. Pierre, Dave Bautista, Gina Carano, and Alain Moussi.
1) Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior
Starring Tony Jaa and released in 2003, this film was probably the penultimate film that portrayed Muay Thai as one of the most exciting martial arts on screen. In the United States, it started out as an underground foreign film that would eventually stir up so much hype that it was later released in certain theaters throughout the country.
What made Ong-Bak such a hit is the combination of Muay Thai strikes and stunts that Jaa displayed on the screen. Inspired by Jackie Chan and Jet Li, Jaa has become one of the leading martial arts stars today.
The film surprisingly spawned two sequels which both starred and were directed by Jaa himself.
Clyde Erwin Barretto is an emphatic obsessed fan of mixed martial arts, combat sports and body movement. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeBarretto.