It’s easy for a foreigner to forget that Thailand has its own film industry with a canon of great Thai films. The theaters show all the latest blockbuster hits from the West and American movies can easily be purchased from any shopping mall. However Thailand does have its own film industry with many movies well worth watching. Although visitors may find it hard to come across DVDs with English subtitles they do exist for a few great movies. 

Discover Great Martial Arts in “Ong-Bak”

Tony Jaa is well known throughout the world for his martial arts ability. It’s hard to believe that the stunts in Ong-Bak were done without wires or CGI, but Tony Jaa’s excellent athletic ability makes it possible. A story about a rural boy moving to the big city to find his village’s stolen Buddha, this movie has one of the best chase scenes to be found. Tony Jaa performs flying leaps, jumps through barbed wire, and cartwheels between panes of glass. Also find him in the sequel – Tom Yum Goong – released as The Protector in the US.

See the Grandeur of Thailand’s History in “The Legend of Suriyothai”

The Legend of Suriyothai is to date the most expensive Thai film ever made. Receiving backing from the Royal Family the movie is said to have cost well over 6 million US dollars to make. The movie tells the true story of Queen Suriyothai who died in battle in 1548 against Burmese invaders. She sacrificed her life to save her king by charging her battle elephant in front of the Burmese fighters. The movie showcases Thailand’s beautiful palaces and hundreds of elephants were recruited to star in the war scenes.

The True Story of Thailand’s “Beautiful Boxer”

Beautiful Boxer tells the true story of Parinya “Nong Toom” Charoenphol, a transvestite who successfully rose in the ranks of Thailand’s macho Muay Thai kickboxing world. Growing up in the rural north Nong Toom originally turned to kickboxing to make money – a sport traditionally practiced only by men. However, from a very young age Nong Toom knew she was a girl trapped in a boy’s body. She would regularly try on makeup with the village transvestite and throughout her career she saved money for her sex change operation. This movie gives insight into Thailand’s views on transvestites while portraying the art of Muay Thai.

A Heart-Warming Love Story: Fan Chan

Fan Chan is a romantic comedy that looks back on the friendship of a boy and girl growing up in a small Thai town in the 1980’s. It ranked as the top domestic film of 2003. This endearing film shows the games that children played in Thailand’s small towns and is sure to tug on any viewers heart strings with its endearing characters. The film was released as ‘My Girl’ in English.