Even before I moved to Thailand, I was obsessed with Thai movies. I used to order Thai movies on VCD or DVD from EThaiCD and couldn’t wait for that package to arrive in the US, so I could spend the next few days glued to my TV screen. Of course, now I’m in Thailand, not only can I buy Thai movies at a thousand different stores, but I can also see them on the big screen at my local movie theatre. Thailand produces some amazing movies – a fact the west doesn’t seem to know. In fact, I’ve seen few Thai movies that I didn’t like, but these five Thai movies are definitely my top five. If you’re looking for a Thai movie to start out with, you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
Shutter – Thailand makes tons of ghost movies as Thais love them. Ghosts, or ‘pee’ as they’re called in Thai, are scary enough but Thai ghosts are really freaking frightening. Shutter is a Thai ghost movie and is absolutely the scariest movie I have ever seen – bar none. After seeing Shutter at the movie theatre with some Thai friends, I slept for three nights afterwards with the lights on. One of the Thai guys I went to the theatre with spent half the movie shreeking and grabbing my arm – that’s how scary Shutter is.
Shutter tells the story of Tun and his girlfriend, Jane, who hit a girl while they’re driving home late one night. After this, Tun starts to see mysterious shadows in the photographs he takes and soon, the shadows start to become the image of a woman. Then Tun’s friends start to be murdered one by one and a girl Tun used to go to school with, Natre, starts to appear as a ghost. Shutter has some of the scariest movie scenes I have ever watched and the ending of the movie is truly freaky. There has been a US remake of Shutter, but it’s nowhere near as good as the Thai version, so get that one if you can.
Starring Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, and Achita Sikamana, Shutter can be ordered from several places in the US, just make sure it has English subtitles (a version that’s very difficult to find here in Thailand).
|Poster for ‘Fan Chan’|
Fan Chan (‘My Girl’) – One of the cutest and sweetest movies ever made in Thailand, Fan Chan is a must see for any movie fan. It tells the story of Jeab and Noi-Naa, a boy and girl who were ‘almost sweethearts’ when they were just little kids. It’s a wonderful look at small town Thai life in the 1980s as well as a lovely commentary on first love and how it affects the rest of our lives. The two little stars are wonderful, and it has a cool soundtrack of 1980s Thai pop music too.
Starring Charlie Trairat and Focus Jirakul, it was the top grossing movie in Thailand in 2003 and is well worth seeing.
|Mekhong Full Moon Party – one of the best Thai movies ever made|
Mekhong Full Moon Party – I’ve seen this Thai movie at least ten times and never tire of it, so it was easy to put it on my top five best Thai movies list. It tells the story of Khan, who is attending university in Bangkok. He travels back to his hometown, Nong Khai, the famous Thai town where the mysterious fireballs rise from the river every year on the full moon holiday in October. For years, Thais from all over Thailand have traveled to Nong Khai for the fireballs (true story, not just in the movie), but we soon find out that there’s really no mystery to them. Instead, every year, Khan helps a monk, Luang Poh Loh, (actually a local temple’s abbot) plant the fireballs on the bed of the river, so they’ll go off at the time when half of Thailand will be there to see them. But, this year, Khan feels like he’s cheating people and doesn’t want to do it.
Mekhong Full Moon Party stars Anuchit Sapanpong and Noppadol Duangporn and was directed by Jira Maligool. It won awards in Thailand, Hong Kong and was entered in the 2003 Bangkok Film Festival.
Luang Phii Teng (‘The Holy Man’) – Another of my top five best Thai movies is a Thai comedy that has a distinctly Thai sense of humor, but I still found it laugh out loud funny. The Holy Man is about a young monk (who actually was a bit of a yobo before he became a monk) who moves to a small village that still believes in ghosts and the supernatural. He thinks it will be easy to get the villagers to pay more attention to Buddhism and to live better lives but he soon finds out that’s not the case at all.
One of the most popular Thai comedies in the last few years, Luang Phii Teng stars Pongsak Pongsuan and Petchtai Wongkamlao.
Ong Bak, Muay Thai Warrior – Starring Tony Jaa, famous all over Asia for his Muay Thai (thai kickboxing) expertise, Ong Bak is the story of the theft of the head of a Buddha statue from a small Thai village, and how Ting, the village’s best athlete, travels to Bangkok to try and get the Buddha head back. Along the way, he meets bad guys, stolen Buddha images and, of course, a pretty girl. Ong Bak was the break-out movie for Tony Jaa, who is purported to become one of Asia’s next biggest martial arts movie stars (he’s cute too!)
If you buy Ong Bak on DVD or VCD, get the Thai version and not the version that was put out in the US by a French company. In the French version, much of the back story is cut out and they got rid of the cool Thai music soundtrack and replaced it with cheesy European music instead.
There are hundreds of Thai movies put out every year, with some real gems. These are still what I think are five of the best Thai movies ever produced. See them if you want an introduction to the Thai movie scene – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.