at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Beautiful Boxer

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Wednesday, December 3 at 6:30pm
Center for Korean Studies Building

Thailand (2004, 118 min)
Dir: Ekachai Uekrongtham
Cinematography: Choochart Nantitanyatada
Stunts: Kadam Chaipanich (Muay Thai consultant)

Cast: Asanee Suwan (Nong Toom / Parinya Charoenphol), Sorapong Chatree (Pi Chart), Orn-Anong Panyawong (Nong Toom’s Mother), Nukkid Boonthong (Nong Toom’s Father) Sitiporn Niyom (Nat), Somsak Tuangmkuda (Pi Moo)

I suppose many non-Thai action film fans have their first exposure to the Thai martial arts of Muay Thai through movies like Ong Bak or Tom Yum Goong, both starring Tony Jaa. But the Muay Thai scene in Thailand was set abuzz in the 90s when transvestite warrior Nong Toom (Asanee Suwan) took to the stage and battled it out with other gladiators, while at the same time battled the prejudice he faced because he was different. Beautiful Boxer charts the ups and downs of the protagonist, except that it ups the ante with Nong Toom’s personal struggles, which present themselves as a bigger challenge with prejudice and misconceptions to fight, instead of the usual fight-against-poverty storyline. And like the movies in the genre, the battle in the ring is a sight to behold, as they get choreographed expertly. It’s a movie that works on both the emotional level and the physical side with its fight action sequence, and one of the better sports-fight biopics I have seen. Look out too for a cameo by the real Nong Toom (now known as Parinaya Charoemphol after his sex-change operation). It brought to mind an adage which I shall paraphrase – the person might be different, but the struggles faced are the same. -Stefan S – (A Nutshell) Review

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