Thailand's First Netflix Series Is A Must-Watch For Martial Arts Fans

Screengrab via Netflix

Thailand is coming to Netflix with the martial arts series Monkey Twins, which premieres Saturday, Sept. 1. The show sounds exciting, fast-paced, and chock full of fight scenes. Case in point, the series synopsis: "Inspired by Khon dance drama and Thai martial arts, a fighter scarred by the past joins forces with a determined cop to battle an organized crime ring." And, if the trailer is any indication, audiences are in for impressive Muay Thai choreography, set against the gorgeous backdrop of Thailand. But none of this explains whether Monkey Twins will return for Season 2.

While it's simply too soon to tell if there will be more seasons of this martial arts show, fans can still learn more about its premise. According to an Instagram post from actress Alisa Kunkwaeng, who plays Namtan, Monkey Twins began airing on Netflix Thailand back in June, with new episodes dropping weekly. Per Thai paper The Standard, this is Thailand's first Netflix series, so Monkey Twins is a big deal for this Southeast Asian country.

Additionally, this show is based on a 2016 film by the same title — or Wanon Koo Fud in Thai. The movie followed a similar plot, by the looks of the trailer, with an old man teaching the protagonist, Neua (Sumret Muengput), the traditional art of Muay Thai. The film also starred Zozeen Panyanut Jirarottanakasem as Lee In. However, its premise isn't the only DNA the two properties share. Per IMDb, Nontakorn Taweesuk created the 2018 show, who also wrote and directed 2016's Wanon Koo Fud.

Screengrab via Netflix

Taweesuk is known for writing films like Ong-Bak 2 and Muay Thai Giant, which he also directed. However, Monkey Twins will be his first TV show, according to IMDb. As for the Netflix show's cast, Phakhin Khamwilaisak plays an undercover cop named Mawin. Another fun tidbit? Zozeen Panyanut Jirarottanakasem, who was in the 2016 film, plays the character Li Yin. Also joining the cast are Sumret Muengput, who plays Neua; Alisa Kunkwaeng as Namtan; and Akkarat Nimitchai as Techo, among others.

So what exactly can fans expect to see in Monkey Twins? Scandal, romance, and action, if its Netflix trailer is any indication. "I know you’re in politics now," an unknown character says in the trailer. "I’m only asking for your connection in dealing drugs." O.K., so fans know there's some kind of drug ring connection. What else? Like any good martial arts film, there has to be a training montage — preferably conducted by an older, wiser mentor. Check! However, Monkey Twins won't have just any martial arts training — its characters learn Muay Thai.

But what is Muay Thai, exactly? According to the website Thai Boxing, it's the national sport of Thailand. The site goes on to explain that it has "origins in the ancient battlefield tactics of the Siamese (or Thai) army." With this in mind, it makes sense when an old man (likely the protagonist's Muay Thai teacher) enters what appears to be a Buddhist temple. "Our ancestors hid Muay Thai stances in high art like Khon to preserve them," the man explains as viewers see beautiful scenery inside the temple.

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As for Khon, this refers to a traditional Thai dance drama. According to the Bangkok Post, "Khon is often based on tales from the epic Ramakien. In it, there are phra (male protagonists), nang (female protagonists), yak (giants or evil antagonists) and ling (monkey soldier assistants to phra) characters." The ling is likely where the name Monkey Twins came from. The Ramakien, by the way, is Thai's national epic — similar to India's epic poem, the Ramayana. This per the British Library.

Finally, fans shouldn't be intimidated by the fact that Monkey Twins is in Thai, since Netflix provides English, Spanish, Traditional Chinese, and simplified Chinese subtitle options. So while the series features plenty of rich Thai history, there's also just a lot of fighting. And that's all that martial arts fan want to see, at the end of the day.