Cinema without borders: Beautiful Boxer
Boy, did this flick surprise me. The subject matter has never been high on my wish list of things to do: a feisty Thai kick boxer longs to be a woman.
Still, it’s a cool compelling watch. Nong Toom is so much in love with and devoted to his poor nomadic farming parents, he will do almost anything for their welfare. He discovers the art of boxing and is soon a Thai champ, kicking his way to fame and fortune. Most of it he shares with his mom and dad.
When you’re hot, you get away with a lot. Toom gets away, by degrees, flaunting his inner yearnings in the ring. First comes the lipstick, then the mascara. The feminine touches soon add to his box office appeal. A freak show, some complain. The crowds can’t stay away.
There’s so much more on the sad-happy journey to Toom’s ultimate goal. It’s about who we are. It’s about our relationship to our parents. The film’s most touching moment arrives when Toom’s father is able to accept his son’s resolve to regenderize himself.
Lots of humor here, too, in the wildly bizarre spectacle of Toom's increasingly outrageous ring appearances.
Produced and directed by Ekachai Uekrontham, starring Asanne Suwan, it’s a great movie. Go be engaged, moved, challenged and inspired. Life can be like that.
[in the 1999 photo, that's the real-life Toom from kid kicker to I Am Woman]