The French / Thai coproduction Chok Dee : The Kickboxer dramatizes the real-life story of champion kickboxer Dida Diafat (an 11-time Muay Thai boxing champion), who stars in the character of Ryan, a delinquent French-Algerian youth from the mean streets of a suburban Paris slum who ends up in prison after hot-wiring a truck. His cellmate, former Muay Thai boxer Jean (Bernard Giraudeau), sees in Ryan the raw material of a future champion. The de rigeur "Rocky"-like training montages follow, as the zen-like Jean works to corral his cocky pupil's fiery temperament.
Ryan evolves into a formidable contender, rechristened by Jean as Chok Dee (Thai for "good luck"). Upon release, Ryan puts what little money he has toward a plane ticket to Bangkok, where he aspires to become that rare foreigner granted access to professional Muay Thai competitions.
This prompts another round of underdog cliches, as Ryan stubbornly tries to become that rare foreigner accepted into exclusive Muay Thai training camp, where he slowly works his way up. But boxing isn't the only thing that has brought Ryan to Thailand. He also seeks to forge a reconciliation between Jean and his estranged half-Thai daughter, Kim (Florence Vanida Faivre), who has been raised by the same shady business tycoon (Sombati Medhanee) responsible for Jean's unjust incarceration.