Rising even higher than the greatest expectations engendered by the International Press when it became a favorite of the film festivals, BEAUTIFUL BOXER is one of the more poetic, sensitive, luxuriously vivid and colorful films to come out of Thailand – and that is saying a lot, given the extravagant epics that yearly grow in popularity. This work of art is simply stunning in content, in direction, in acting, and in heartfelt simplicity of message. This is a great one! Writer/director Ekachai Uekrongtham based his first film on the true story of Parinaya Charoemphol AKA Nong Toom, a famous Thai athlete Muay Thai boxer (better known as ‘kick boxer’ – a demanding, dangerous sport)
who entered the world of Muay Thai to garner enough money to help his family and pay for his ultimate sex-change surgery. A tough story to offer general
audiences, perhaps, but Ekachai Uekrongtham presents this edgy biography with such cinematic finesse and care that it becomes a film that should appeal to a very wide audience. And much of that success is due to the towering performance by Asanee Suwan in his acting debut: Suwan is in life a professional kick boxer who won the title role after extensive auditions by many practitioners of Muay Thai.
BEAUTIFUL BOXER takes us through the life of Nong Toom, his childhood in a family of loving accepting parents who
respect his love of beauty and things feminine, his brief period of being a monk who must leave the monastery
because of his inclinations, through his introduction to makeup and play-acting women’s roles in the Thai theaters, his ridicule as being more girl than boy (a fact that results in his parents’ incarceration!), and his devoted friendship with a girl who supports his desire for femininity and a young man who stands up for him in the boys’ camp for learning sports. Gradually Nong Toom realizes that the only way he can make enough money to achieve a sex change operation is to become a successful kick boxer and he aligns himself with a trainer Pi Chart (Sorapong Chatree) and with much commitment and practice becomes Thailand’s most famous Muay Thai. His self-respect is further established when
he openly wears makeup in the boxing ring, causing many to believe his act is a gimmick and not the manifestation
of his true transsexualism. He fights the toughest opponents and wins consistently until he at last arrives in Toyko for the ‘big purse’ of fighting female wrestler Kyoko Inoue (who plays herself). With the money from the fight he is able to have his surgery and becomes the famous actress and model now living in Bangkok.
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