Directed by: EKACHAI UEKRONGTHAM
Starring: ASANEE SUOAN, SORAPONG CHATREE, ONR-ANONG PANYAWONG,
KYOKO INOUE, SITIPORN NIYOM
Released by: Regent Releasing
Short: The biopic of a transgendered Thai
kickboxer has an interesting premise, but slow
pacing and loose-footed performances make it
kind of a drag -- no pun intended.
in Drag? Kind of a Drag.
premise: A male kickboxer who wears women’s makeup
and knows how to accessorize. Didn’t wrestlers Hulk
Hogan and Jesse Ventura make that old news with their
boa-wearing antics decades ago? But the setting is Thailand,
an accepting society where cross-dressing is not just
for comic relief. Besides, the boxer in question is Parinya
Charoenphol (also known as Nong Toom), who rose to sensational
fame in Bangkok---not only for his colorful antics but
for kicking some serious butt and undergoing a sex change.
up in the northern province of Chiang Mai, Nong Toom always
wanted to be one of the beautiful women that his province
was known for. His mother did not mind that he played
with girls or wore flowers in his hair, but she drew the
line at allowing others to bully him. Naturally, he became
may act like a sissy out of the ring and wear lipstick
and blush in the ring, but he sure doesn’t fight
like a girl. Drawing on resources (perhaps frustration?)
from deep within, he wins knock-out after knock-out, climbs
through the ranks and makes a pile of money, squirreling
it away to pay for the operation that will make female.
Fans love the novelty, and his boxing buddies take it
in stride – instead of making him take off the makeup,
his trainer tells him to buy some that won’t run.
all this color, “Beautiful Boxer” occasionally
feels as lackluster as its title. There are some acting
blips as well with Asanee Suwan as the adult Nong Toom.
While his performance is pleasant enough, it seems limited
to two emotions: puppy-dog cute and don’t-mess-with-me
a U.S. audience, the best reasons to see this film are
to get a taste of Thailand (and exciting boxing sequences)
and to imagine how the same characters would be portrayed
in American entertainment. The Thais seem to be mostly
unfazed; what would you do?