This paper contextualises a cultural construction of hegemonic masculinity and discusses ways in which Thai action film heroes in historical and Muay Thai films are represented. Traditionally, the quality of nakleng is desirable for Thai action heroes along with having mastery in a particular skill. In the moral realm, the idea of gratitude or khwam-katanyu in Thai, is prioritised and highly regarded to be the inevitable requisite for good men, which includes action heroes. This sense of gratitude extends to one’s ideological obligations to one’s motherland or matuphum, which is often thematically portrayed in Muay Thai and historical films through the struggle of the hero. Based on a reading of the two exemplar films, Ong Bak (Muay Thai Warrior 2003, dir. Prachya Pinkaew) and The Legend of King Naresuan: The Elephant Duel (2014, dir. Chatri Chalerm Yukol), the different social backgrounds of the two heroes, their hegemonic masculinity, autonomy and lack can be explained in relation to the discourse of Buddhist spirituality. In addition, the ways in which the two heroes are differently depicted is a cinematic device with the aid of which, in addition to the observance of filmic verisimilitude, the representations are designed to cater to segmented subject/citizen audiences. In psychoanalytic terms, each hero from the two films is similarly made to acquire autonomy and experience ‘lack’ in different realms of the symbolic order.