5 Best Tony Jaa Movies, Ranked

Credit: Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo

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Martial arts icon Tony Jaa has had a fascinating filmography, making as many hits as he has misses. Most recently, his return to the silver screen with video-game-inspired Monster Hunter alongside Milla Jovovich was less than well-received by critics and fans. Its CGI world drowned out the incredible raw talent Jaa possessed, making it a far cry from the Muay Thai classics we came to know and love, like Ong Bak and The Protector.

Let’s look at some action-packed Tony Jaa classics you may want to pick up when you want a heart-pounding and teeth-gritting combat for movie night:

  1. Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior (2005)
  2. The Protector (2005)
  3. Ong Bak 2 (2009)
  4. Ong Bak 3 (2011)
  5. The Protector 2 (2014)

Find out more about the released films and how to watch them below.

1. Ong Bak: The Thai Warrior (2005)

Ong Bak - The Thai Warrior
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tony Jaa, Petchtai Wongkamlao (Actors)
  • Prachya Pinkaew (Director) - Suphachai Sittiaumponpan (Writer) - Prachya Pinkaew (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Last update on 2023-09-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer: Suphachai Sittiaumponpan
Cast: Tony Jaa, Mum Jokmok, Pumwaree Yodkamol
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
Runtime: 1h 45m
Genre: Martial Arts, Action

It wasn’t that long ago that Muay Thai and Tony Jaa made a tremendous impression in the action movie industry.

In Ong Bak the opening sequence, acrobat and stuntman Ting (played by Jaa) leads a pursuit through the streets. He repeatedly slides under and jumps over various objects for no reason but to show off his parkour-like skills. This pursuit and the later tree-climbing sequence establish the film’s gritty tone.

You can tell this film is vintage and was immediately made on a tight budget. In any case, it won’t stop anybody from appreciating the output.

What made Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior so great was that it didn’t rely on computer-generated imagery or special effects. It compels you to pay attention to the cinematography and choreography. This raw, visceral quality is heightened using Bruce Lee’s camerawork, which shows the same blow or maneuver from various angles.

Tony Jaa’s visual appeal shines through, yet his character is undercooked. This is true for the main antagonist and the vast majority of supporting cast members. Even if the plot isn’t very unique, you can be certain that you’ll have a satisfying experience seeing Tony Jaa smash some skulls. Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior is an absolute must-see when it comes to simple films with tons of action.

You can click here to stream Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior on Amazon.

2. The Protector (2005)

The Protector
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tony Jaa, Nathan Jones, Petchtai Wongkamlao (Actors)
  • Prachya Pinkaew (Director) - Napalee (Writer) - Sukanya Vongsthapat (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Last update on 2023-09-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer: Prachya Pinkaew
Cast: Tony Jaa, Bongkoj Khongmalai, Mum Jokmok, Jin Xing, Johnny Trí Nguyễn, Nathan Jones, Lateef Crowder dos Santos, Jon Foo
IMDb Rating: 7.0/10
Runtime: 1h 23m
Genre: Martial Arts, Action

To say that Tony Jaa’s next film was poorly received was an understatement. Comparing it to the relative success and reception of Ong-Bak, some fans, and critics label this film as a letdown.

Tony Jaa plays Kham, the descendant of a long lineage of royal elephant guardians. After having two elephants taken and his father slain, he journeys to Australia to find and put those accountable to justice. Still, he faces much opposition on his voyage down under.

Some claim that The Protector has a flimsy story written only to give Jaa reasons to bash heads and kick faces, but nobody said this is a Wes Craven film that makes you question reality. It is a down-to-earth action film that a bunch of buddies can put on and have a good time.

The Protector shows us how Tony Jaa has improved since Ong-Bak — cinematically and action-wise. While it’s evident that he’s still figuring out his cinematic martial arts style, he still provides flashy fights and exciting encounters.

The Protector is often dubbed as a knucklehead of a movie — mostly brawn and very little brain — but it has its moments. While it is true that it can be quite cheesy, poorly edited, and plot-lacking, Tony Jaa’s insane skills are still worth giving The Protector a chance.

You can click here to stream The Protector on Amazon.

3. Ong Bak 2 (2009)

Ong Bak #2
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tony Jaa, Sarunyu Wongkrachang, Sorapong Chatree (Actors)
  • --- (Director) - Tony Jaa (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Last update on 2023-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Writer: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Cast: Tony Jaa, Nirut Sirijanya, Sorapong Chatree, Sarunyoo Wongkrachang
IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
Runtime: 1h 37m
Genre: Martial Arts, Action

Here’s the lowdown on the basics for Ong Bak 2: The Beginning As far as stories go, this one has about as thin as you can get. The second thing to remember is that the first issue is not nearly as terrible as it may seem.

The original Ong Bak is a martial arts film classic that catapulted Tony Jaa to superstardom. However, some fans might be confused once they sit down for Ong-Bak 2, as neither the plot nor Jaa’s character names are identical in this film. It is also set in a different period.

Fans will have to be patient, but when they do, they’ll see that the martial arts are as good as ever and that Tony Jaa continues to amaze. The dramatic fighting moments are recognizably flavored by the meticulously recreated backdrops, contributing significantly to the intensity and adrenaline.

In the film’s last act (spoiler alert!), Jaa battles a series of more lethal villains while wielding an ever-increasing array of weapons, including a sword, a live elephant, and a ridiculously long triple-staff. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

It’s fantastic that Jaa co-directed the picture and has such a keen visual sense. The musical score, which is also very impressive, elevates the picture to a more epic level. Even if you are forced to go through some torturous plot devices, the film will surely be among the best action pictures you’ll ever witness.

You can click here to stream Ong-Bak 2 on Amazon.

4. Ong Bak 3 (2011)

Ong Bak 3
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tony Jaa, Primorata Dejudom, Dan Chupong (Actors)
  • Tony Jaa (Director) - Tony Jaa (Writer) - Tony Jaa (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Last update on 2023-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Director: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Writer: Tony Jaa, Panna Rittikrai
Cast: Tony Jaa, Dan Chupong, Sarunyoo Wongkrachang, Mum Jokmok
IMDb Rating: 4.9/10
Runtime: 1h 38m
Genre: Martial Arts, Action

You should see “Ong Bak 2” or “the first part of the picture” before diving into “Ong Bak 3.” The studio intended to be a single picture, with a cliffhanger as appropriate, but they decided that splitting it in two would increase profits.

Quickly picking up from where part two left off, the film starts with Tony Jaa’s Tien still within the Big Bad Guy’s grubby paws. He is almost killed but is rescued and carried back to the Kana Khone people, where he is trained (with an excessively long training montage) in meditation and ways to cope with his Karma. However, his old nemesis soon reappears, challenging Tien to a last fight.

As a non-Thai, it is possible to overlook key phrases or elements of importance due to the metaphysical component, meditation, Buddhism, and cultural and temporal variances. The creative standards were high, and the scenery and costuming, from the dirt path in the countryside to the luxurious palace, were all well done. What we asked for, in the end, was the most horrific bouts possible, and we got them.

Ong-Bak 3 is a legitimate film with a story, morals, graphic violence, and gore. It’s a satisfying end to a visceral trilogy.

You can click here to stream Ong-Bak 3 on Amazon.

5. The Protector 2 (2014)

The Protector 2 (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Tony Jaa, Mum Jokmok, RZA (Actors)
  • magnolia (Director) - Eakasit Thairaat (Writer) - Prachya Pinkaew (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Last update on 2023-09-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Director: Prachya Pinkaew
Writer: Eakisit Thairaat
Cast: Tony Jaa, RZA, Mum Jokmok, Yanin Vismitananda
IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
Runtime: 1h 44m
Genre: Martial Arts, Action

Like the original film, The Protector 2 opens with Kham (Jaa) in rural Thailand with his trusty elephant Khon. When vicious thugs abduct Khon for unknown reasons, Kham must once again leave his home to rescue it while breaking faces.

It’s bad enough when a narrative repeats itself. What’s worse is when compared to the previous film, which had several exciting fight sequences and superb stunts to make up for it, the sequel lags under the weight of combat “enhanced” by blatantly obvious wirework and bad CGI.

However, the action in “The Protector 2” is top-notch overall. Jaa’s martial arts demonstrations are unparalleled in their degree of viciousness. His hair is cut short and harshly; his cheekbones are pronounced, and his eyes radiate a piercing awareness. Rather than blindly attacking the person across from him, you can watch him formulate a plan to eliminate the rest of the room’s population.

“The Protector 2” is no exception to the norm that martial arts movies are not recognized for their profound storylines. It’s crazy to believe that one movie, much alone a potential action series, was based on a guy trying to track down his lost elephant (again). But the reason the works is not despite the campiness, but rather because of it. Even though it’s completely ridiculous, it’s a lot of fun to watch and has a few touching moments here and there.

You can click here to stream The Protector 2 on Amazon.

Tony Jaa’s Future Filmography

After Jaa severed ties with Sahamongkol Film in 2013, Universal Studios signed him for a part in Fast & Furious 7. Now focusing more on an international fan base, Jaa has led parts in many foreign projects. He will be seen in the next The Expendables 4 film, which is scheduled for a September 2023 release.