Movies About Thailand: The 12 Best Films We’ve Watched

Once I started visiting Thailand I found myself watching any movie that was set in Thailand.  Anything from films about the Tsunami to historical Thai dramas to Thai horror movies, if it was a movie about Thailand or set in Thailand I would watch it.  Some were complete crap and others quickly became favorites.  This my list of the best movies about Thailand.

I prefer to watch a movie in English even poorly dubbed ones, but some of the Thai movies are subtitled. If the movie is good you don’t even notice once you start getting into it.  Lets’s take a look at the list.

1. Only God Forgives

A gritty crime drama set in Bangkok.  The story of an American crime family based in Bangkok.  One brother (Ryan Gossling) sets out to avenge his brother’s murder, pushed on by his crazy and controlling mother.  It has some great cinematography, over the top storylines, and gritty violence.

This is a film people love or love to hate.  It focuses on and exaggerates the negative stereotypes of Thailand, which I don’t like, but it has to for the story to work.  It’s violent, strange, and a bit slow.  I found it visually stunning and a bit strange too.

This film is not going to be at the top of many people’s favorite movies set in Thailand.  Wanna fight?

2. The Hangover Part II

The Wolf Pack is at it again, this time in Thailand.  Not exactly a cultural documentary, but you get some cool scenes of Bangkok and other areas of Thailand.  And besides, it is hilarious.

3. The Protector (1 & 2)

The Protector 2The Protector series is one of the first set of Thai movies I watched.  They are action packed with incredible fight scenes and knock down brawls.  The storylines are a little to be desired, but that’s exactly why you watch these type of action films.

In the Protector, you’ll see lots of Muay Thai goodness from Tony Jaa.  Kham, a man from a small town in Thailand has his elephant stolen and must go to Australia to get it back.  He uses his Muay Thai training to beat up anyone who gets in his way.

Kham returns in the Protector 2, avenging the death of the owner of an elephant camp.  More kicking butt by Muay Thai phenom Tony Jaa.

4. Headshot

Another fast-paced action packed movie with plenty of killing.  A guy gets shot in the head and wakes up in a coma.  He has amnesia, people for some reason are out to kill him, and they kidnap his girlfriend.  He strikes back. Gritty, violent, awesome.

5. Kingdom of War: Legend of King Naresuan

Kingdom of War MovieThese are two long movies, but are cultural epics about the life King Naresuan the Great who freed Siam from the control of the Burmese.  You get a real glimpse into Thai history, their war against the Burmese Empire, and the life of the king from Buddhist monk to great warrior.  The films are slow but very interesting.

6. The Beach

The Beach with Leonardo DiCaprioNo list of movies about Thailand seems complete without The Beach.  While not my favorite it was one of the first films about Thailand I watched that really showcased the beauty of Thailand.

If you are not already familiar with the film, it is the backpacker epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  It follows the journey of Richard as he travels through Thailand.  When he comes across a secret map, things start to get interesting.  Great visuals of the beautiful islands in Thailand mixed in with a little Lord of the Flies.

7. The Impossible

The Impossible - Movie about Thailand TsunamiBased on a true life story of a family that survived the Tsunami in Thailand in 2004.  It follows the family as they search to find each other amidst all the chaos and carnage.

8.  Brokedown Palace

Brokedown Palace - Movie
A tale of two female backpackers in Thailand that get used as drug mules without their knowledge and end up in a Bangkok Prison. A cautionary tale for those traveling to Thailand. Drugs and Prison are two things you want to stay away from.

9.  Beautiful Boxer

Beautiful Boxer - Nong ToomAmazing true life story of kathoey or transgender Muay Thai Boxer Parinya Charoenphol (Nong Toom).  The touching tale of her life and career as she became a Muay Thai champ to raise money to support her family and pay for sex re-assignment surgery.

10. Ong-Bak Trilogy

Ong-Bak MovieThe Ong-Bak trilogy has some awesome fight scenes and Tony Jaa gets to show off his Muay Thai skills in some amazing punch-ups.  The first movie takes place in modern times, while the subsequent movies are actually prequels, taking place in Thailand’s history.  If you like Martial Arts and action movies, check them out.

11. Teddy Bear

After striking our in relationships at home a 38-year-old bodybuilder from Denmark travels to Pattaya Thailand to try and find love. The nightlife and bar scene shock and surprise him and he gives up hope till he meets someone normal and falls in love.  But he still needs to deal with his overbearing mother. A slow movie but an interesting look at the Pattaya Bar scene.

12. Shutter

After a hit and run accident where a couple accidently run over a pedestrian strange things start to happen.  Nightmares start and ghostly figures begin to appear in photographs they take.  Then people start to die.  Thai’s love their ghost stories and this is a good one.

Movies About Thailand – Runners Up

There are a lot of great movies about Thailand or set in Thailand.  Here’s a short list of a few more that didn’t make the top 12.

  • Bitter/Sweet
  • Muay Thai Giant
  • Kickboxer
  • Lost in Thailand
  • Man With The Golden Gun
  • No Escape
  • Bang Rajan
  • The Legend of Suriyothai

What are your favorite movies about Thailand?  Did any not make the list? Let me know in the comments section below.

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One Comment

  1. If people will ask me what is the best Asian horror story ever. for me the shutter will always be on top of my list. The story has a good twist and there’s no dull moment! To be honest, I still get surprised to some of the scenes even if I have watched it a couple of times.

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