Muay Thai in Popular Culture

Interest in Muay thai has risen in the past ten years, due to the popularity of martial arts in film and television. The most notable practitioner of Muay thai is martial arts sensation Tony Jaa. Yet one of the first popular films that included Muay thai was Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 1989 movie Kickboxer.

challenger muay thai reality tv television Muay Thai in Popular Culture

Muay thai has been represented in quite a few fighting games as well. Sagat and Adon from Street Fighter, Joe Higashi and King and Hwa Jai from King of Fighters, Zack the DJ from Dead or Alive, Bruce Irvin from Tekken, Brad Burns from Virtua Fighter, and Jax Briggs from Mortal Kombat are all known to be practitioners of the martial arts. Muay thai has also become popular in the movie industry with the release of The Ong Bak Trilogy, starring rising muay thai star Tony Jaa. Chocolate, starring Yanin Vismistananda, is another martial arts movie demonstrating muay thai’s increasingly broad appeal. Another reference to muay thai is its use in the anime/manga, “Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple”. Apachai Hopachai, one of the Masters of Ryozanpaku is called, in episode 48, “The Death God of the Muay thai Underworld”; he is also shown to have difficulty controlling his power as well. This stems from his life-long exposure to ruthless opponents in death-match fights. Most recently muay thai has seen an influx in onscreen exposure with the likes of The Contender in 2006 and The Challenger Muaythai in 2011 (Shown on AXN in Asia and airing 2012 worldwide).

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