After the usher walked me to the premium seats, I realized how close to the action I was going to be. There I was at Asiatique Riverfront for the award-winning stage production – Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives.
After training at Boxing King earlier that day, I wanted a crash course on Muay Thai’s past. What better way than to let the Thai paint a picture of the martial sport’s history?
Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives
Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives is a show, directed by Ekachai Uekrongtham, that features Muay Thai’s evolution from the past to the present. Through five acts, it retells three ancient legends and then takes the audience back into present-day Bangkok.
While the stories were narrated in Thai, subtitles in three languages appeared on the backdrop – English, Chinese and Japanese. No one was allowed to take photos and videos when the show started.
Act 1: The Tiger King
The first act retold the legend of the Tiger King (Phra Chao Seu), who reigned during the Ayutthaya era. He was said to love Muay Thai so much that he disguised himself as a commoner to compete in boxing matches.
What caught me off-guard…
The act began with “hecklers” in the audience yelling and laughing. Before I got annoyed, Ayutthayan men in loincloths ran on stage. The actors had hidden among the audience and were portraying rowdy warrior lads jesting around.
At this point, I appreciated being seated in the second-row (premium tickets via Klook). Due to the proximity to the stage, and the actors occasionally moving into the audience, it felt as though I was in the middle of the action.
You’ll have to watch the show for yourself to experience the show’s version of this legend.
Act 2: The Prisoner with Eight Limbs
The next act was the legend of Nai Khanom Tom, a warrior captured by the Burmese forces after Ayutthaya fell.
One day, the Burmese king decided to hold a boxing contest, in which Nai Khanom Tom fought as a prisoner. He defeated ten elite Burmese boxers with ease in back-to-back matches and received praised from the king.
The fight scenes and realistic stunts…
The fight scenes and stunts were especially spectacular at my distance. Even though I knew it was choreographed, the stunts and dramatic flips got my heart pumping.
I can still remember when Nai Khanom Tom leapt off the ground and landed on an opponent’s thigh. Almost immediately, his elbow came crashing down on the Burmese boxer’s head, collapsing the man to the ground. The speed of the choreographed fight was amazing.
Yet, I thought I heard the sound of whiplash when Nai Khanom Tom punched and kicked his opponents. I hadn’t imagined it. I clearly heard it over the dramatic music and sound effects. With the staged fight at that speed, there was bound to be actual strikes that connected.
Act 3: The Warrior with Broken Swords
The third act follows the story of Phraya Pichai Dap Hak (Phraya Pichai of the shattered sword), a lesser-known legend than the earlier two. The tale features a warrior who fought in battle with two swords. This is supposedly a form of weaponized Thai boxing.
In a battle against the Burmese, this swordsman fought until his swords shattered. He then had no choice but to fight unarmed against the enemy.
If I recall correctly, the stage production took artistic license with this tale and embedded a heart-wrenching love story within. There was a star-crossed lovers twist involving a female warrior counterpart. I’m not going to give away the ending.
Beautiful weapon choreography…
The weapon fight sequences were extremely well-choreographed. The number of hours that went into training must have been immense for everything to look so fluid.
With the end of this legend, the show moved towards present-day Muay Thai.
Act 4: The Lethal Art of Muay Thai
The fourth act took the audience to the present day. It showcased the culture, tradition, and values of Muay Thai that was passed on for generations. The fact that it lives on till today, combined with dramatic music, gave me goosebumps. Muay Thai was clearly more than a martial sport, adopted by MMA, that seemed devoid of tradition.
What moved me was when the Muay Thai men demonstrated each form in unison when the name of each technique flashed on the screen. Concurrently, two people fought each other to show how that specific technique worked in real time.
The naming convention of martial techniques was uniquely Asian
It was then that I realized that the Thai were like other cultures when it came to naming their forms and techniques. Consider the following names (translated into English):
- Mountain overturns earth
- Elephant thrusting its tusks
- Hanuman the Monkey King presents the ring
All of these names have cultural significance to Thai culture, geography, religion, and history. The same can be said about how the Chinese and Japanese name their forms and techniques.
Act 5: The Passionate Fighter
Not only were there fight scenes, this act included Parkour and tricking stunts.
Set in present-day Bangkok, the son of the police chief witness the abduction of his fiancee. Having no choice, he summons his training in Muay Thai to rescue the love of his life.
From thugs rappelling down from the ceiling to fights in mid-air, the action sequences were spectacular. This modern tale cleanly ties Muay Thai’s past and present together.
Great storytelling, traumatic scene…
When one of the thugs got thrown and flipped, I couldn’t help but cringe and retract my shoulder. It reminded me too much of how I injured my right shoulder.
Muay Thai Live Boxing: Warriors Rising (actual match)
After the show ended, the stage was set up with a makeshift ring for two boxing matches. Nonetheless, the Chinese couple seated next to me left. I don’t think they understood the announcement made in English.
During the interim, most of the audience headed for the restroom before returning to our seats. Because the actors’ movements were unpredictable during the show, no one in my section got up to use the restroom earlier.
As you can see, the nak muay (fighters) are rather young at 17-years-old. There are, of course, younger fighters at rural fairs.
Anyway, I’ve cut the interim breaks between the boxing bouts from the video.
Also, there was a small group of Thai spectators cheering on the fighters insanely. They were either related to the fighters or had a gambling stake in the outcome of the fight. When I left the theatre after the fight, the poor kid who lost was being yelled at by his manager.
Thoughts about the Show & Whether it’s Worth Watching
I loved experiencing Muay Thai Live: The Legend Lives. It was an eye-opening experience for me to watch live-action fights and stunts, amidst awesome storytelling.
But, having read the original accounts of the legends, I don’t think the show’s renditions are completely accurate. An example of it was the love story.
This isn’t an issue though. It is understandable for theatre and films to embellish and exaggerate old stories. How else will you get to see a fight scene when the original version doesn’t give a blow-by-blow account of what happened? The core legend is still there.
Again, the action-packed storytelling was superb. It made me oddly happy.
What’s more, the Thai boxing matches after the show hits the point home on competitive Muay Thai today.
For all that, I was happy to spend the money.
Was it worth it to pay more for the premium seat?
Yes! By being in the front, I felt as though I was part of the action. I could see and hear everything up close.
Unfortunately, that included the sickening thuds on the actors’ bodies whenever they got kicked, punched, or thrown against the stage floor.
Also, I got the ticket at a discount via Klook. So, that may be why I’m not complaining about the price. I’ve listed a few online agents below and compared their prices.
How to Get to Muay Thai Live at Asiatique Riverfront?
1. To get to Asiatique Riverfront, take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, which is on the Silom line (only a few stations from Siam interchange).
2. Get out of the station from exit 2. Follow the sheltered walkway to Sathorn Pier, which is less than 150m away. Turn left at the huge column with the blue signboard. Refer to my photo below.
3. Once you reach the pier, ignore the touts and keep walking to the end. Look out for one of these signs below. That’s the queue for the free shuttle ferry to Asiatique.
4. To get to the Muay Thai Live theatre from Asiatique’s pier, walk to the STAGE Theatre located at Chareonkrung Soi 74-76 within Asiatique.
Take the same shuttle ferry back to Saphan Taksin for free. The ferry operates from 4 to 11.30pm.
Comparing Ticket Prices & Reliability from Various Agents
Prices may fluctuate based on the season. For accurate prices, click on the respective buttons to check them.
|I got my premium ticket via Klook. Recommended.
|Check it out
|Viator (code: 3685P173)
|Only standard seats available. Need to book at least 2 adult tickets.
|Check it out
|Muay Thai Live (direct)
|Most expensive. Online payment in Thai currency only.
|Check it out
|Viator (code: 7638P1)
|It costs more than the original price.
|Check it out
*Prices with the asterisk were calculated with the original price quoted (in non-asterisk), using the exchange rate on 21 Sept 2017.
Should you get tickets that include transportation?
No. Don’t waste your money unless you’re too far from the nearest BTS Skytrain or MRT Metro station. Even then, taking a metered taxi (or Grab car) would be much cheaper.
In most cases, getting there via BTS Skytrain and the free shuttle ferry will cost you less than 50baht (US$1.50). If you are switching from the MRT metro to BTS Skytrain, it may cost you an additional 30baht at most. Go to this section for instructions on how to get there.
There is little reason for you to get a ticket that includes car transfer, especially when central Bangkok is notorious for its traffic.
So, if you decide to watch Muay Thai Live, I recommend getting the premium ticket via Klook. They’ve saved me money on a few experiences during my trip in May/June and been a service I could count on.