Thailand’s film industry has long been known for producing successful horror films (i.e. “Shutter”, “Alone”, “Colic: The Movie”). But if jump scares and eerie soundtracks aren’t your thing, there are tonnes of non-horror Thai movies that are worth watching over and over again.
From sweet rom-coms to intense action flicks, to emotional tearjerkers, here are some of our favourite Thai films of all time:
1. Fan Chan (2003)
The story of “Fan Chan” (also known as “My Girl”) will definitely tug your heartstrings. With a heartwarming storyline and amazing performances from child actors Charlie Trairat and Focus Jirakul, the movie was a sleeper hit that became the top domestic film at the Thai box office in 2003. Cute, sweet, and funny, “Fan Chan” focuses on the childhood friendship between a boy and a girl during the 1980s.
Furthermore, it was the debut film by 6 young screenwriter-directors, Vitcha Gojiew, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharathorn, Witthaya Thongyooyong, Anusorn Trisirikasem, and Komgrit Triwimol.
2. The Letter (2004)
Another one of our favourite Thai films is “The Letter”, a remake of Choi Jin Sil and Park Shin Yang’s 1997 South Korean movie of the same name. In the tearjerker, Dew (played by popular Thai soap opera actress Anne Thongprasom) receives a mysterious letter from her late husband Ton (played by Attaporn Teemakorn), who dies of a brain tumour. Apparently, Ton had written a series of letters prior to his death and arranged for them to be sent to Dew after his death.
Thongprasom won “Best Actress” at the Thailand National Film Association Awards for her role and the film was screened at the 2004 Busan International Film Festival.
3. Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story (2009)
In the mood for a cutesy Thai chick flick? Then “Bangkok Traffic (Love) Story” will definitely make you go “Aww..”.
Sponsored by the BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit System), the Adisorn Tresirikasem-directed film tells the story Li (played by Cris Horwang), a 30-year-old woman who is the last among her friends to marry, and her relationship with Loong (played by Theeradej Wongpuapan), an engineer working on the BTS Skytrain system. The plot may be a little weaker than the films in this list, but it’s still worth watching thanks to Horwang’s entertaining performance as the desperate Li.
4. Headshot (2011)
Adapted from Win Lyovarin’s noir novel, “Headshot” is an intense action film that follows a cop-turned-hitman (played by Jayanama Nopachai) who sees the world upside down after surviving a bullet to the head. As his past returns to haunt him, he tries to survive and fight back despite struggling with his sight disorder.
Furthermore, “Headshot” was selected as the Thai entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at 2013 Academy Awards. Although it did not make the final shortlist, the film will still keep you at the edge of your seat.
5. It Gets Better (2012)
We’re no movie expert, but one thing’s for sure – Thanwarin Sukhaphisit’s “It Gets Better” is a beautiful story about 3 LGBT individuals. The movie is separated into 3 parts: the first part focuses on a man returning to Thailand to inherit his father’s ladyboy bar; the 2nd tells the story of a boy who was sent to a Buddhist temple for repentance after his father caught him wearing women’s clothes; while the 3rd centres on a middle-aged transsexual and her relationship with a younger man.
The film is mainly about love and romance, but it also explores other themes such as self-discovery and acceptance.
6. The Teacher’s Diary (2014)
Is it possible to love someone you’ve never met?
“The Teacher’s Diary” ticks all the right boxes for a heartwarming rom-com. Starring Laila Boonyasak and Sukrit Wisetkaew, the lighthearted film sees how the paths of 2 teachers are connected through a handwritten diary. Not only does it feature witty lines and amazing cinematography, the interactions between the teachers and the students on the floating boat school also felt genuine and earnest.
7. I Fine..Thank You..Love You (2014)
From the director of “ATM: Er Rak Error”, “I Fine..Thank You..Love You” follows the unlikely love story of an English tutor named Pleng (played by Preechaya Pongthananikorn) and Yim (pronounced Jim, played by Sunny Suwanmethanon), a maintenance engineer who speaks 2nd grade English. Thanks to its relatable storyline, usage of Tinglish (Thai English), and over-the-top acting, the hilarious film is one of the country’s highest-grossing films in 2014.
P/S: “I Fine..Thank You..Love You” also stars Japanese adult star and model Sola Aoi as Yim’s hot Japanese ex-girlfriend.
8. Bad Genius (2017)
“Bad Genius” is the highest-grossing film in Thailand so far, earning over THB100 million (approximately RM12 million). Inspired by real-life events of students cheating on the SAT, the Nattawut Poonpiriya-directed heist film centres on 4 high school students from different backgrounds forming an exam-cheating organisation. While Poonpiriya is pretty well-known in the Thai film industry, the lead actors – Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Chanon Santinatornkul, Teeradon Supapunpinyo, and Eisaya Hosuwan – are relatively new.
The film has won multiple awards including “Best Feature” at the New York Asian Film Festival as well as “Best Director” and “Most Innovative Feature Film” at the Fantasia International Film Festival.