Beautiful Boxer

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Jasper Dave B. Arguelles



Runtime: 1 hour 58 mins
Language: Thai
Genre: Action / Adventure
UK release date: 21/10/2005 
Starring: Asanee Suwan, Sorapong Chatree, Orn-Anong Panyawong  Directed by: Ekachai Uekrongtham 

Based on the real life story of Parinya Charoenphol (Nong Toom), a Muaythai boxer who underwent a sex change operation to become a woman. The movie chronicles her life from a young boy who likes to wear lipstick and wear flowers to her sensational career as kickboxer whose specialty is ancient Muaythai boxing moves which she can execute expertly with grace and finally her confrontation with her own sexuality which led to her sex change operation.

In flashback to Chang Mai province, where three-year-old Toom is already displaying a desire to play dress up. Bullied by other children for his sensitivity, Toom turns to his mother for comfort, but she paddles him for allowing himself to be bullied, telling him he must always stand up for himself. The family dispatches Toom to a nearby monastery to become a novice monk, but he must race off to do odd jobs and help on the family farm plot, and eventually the abbot decides the best course of action is to send Toom on the road with an itinerant monk. He dutifully goes, but after a while, the monk realizes Toom isn't committed. Toom asks the monk whether he can accumulate enough good karma in this life to get what he wants in the next one. The monk reassures him that it may be possible for him to get what he wants in this life, and with that in mind, Toom heads home. The teenage Toom and his brother end up spying on a kickboxing camp close to home and eventually get up the courage to wander in and check it out. Toom has little interest in fighting, but he shows a natural skill that attracts the eye of the coach, Pi Chart. When Toom says he's afraid of getting hurt, Pi Chart points out that good fighters don't get hurt.

Toom takes up residence at the camp only to find himself bunking and showering with dozens of horny teenage boys. He quickly becomes a standout fighter, but he's a nervous wreck, choosing to shower alone and sleep in a private corner. When his urge to experiment with lipstick becomes irresistible, the coach's wife gives him lessons, and surprisingly, Pi Chart is fine with it. When Pi Chart's boss, the publicity-hungry camp owner, finds out, he's thrilled; he gives Toom money to go out and buy waterproof makeup 'so it won't run when you sweat.

And so Toom goes public, enduring savage taunting at first. When one competitor apes him by also wearing makeup and swishing around the ring, Toom tells him that 'girls like you give girls like me a bad name' and then swiftly dispatches him with a roundhouse kick to the head. From there, it's a quick rise to the top. Toom is soon a national and international celebrity, and he inches closer and closer to his ultimate goal: to become a woman.

Social Relevance
“He fights like a man so he can become a woman”
Surely enough, that is the first time that has been used to explain a boxing film. Usually boxing films are associated with heroes overcoming the odds and becoming a success. Most of the time, you’ve got a very macho guy who kicks a bunch of ass and gets ass in return from lovely ladies. We do a 360 here about a guy who wants to become a woman, with the money he makes in his fights. “Beautiful Boxer” is based on the true story of Nong Toom (Parinya Charoenphol) and shows that Thailand has some promise. The story is pretty much basic but for a first time director this is solid gold. The fights look good, the characters are typical but still appealing and the message is simple. Truly the shining star of this film belongs to Asanee Suwan who is a real kickboxer and a first time actor. To really connect with his feminine side and to have never acted before, the guy is fantastic just like this movie. I’m really surprised about how Nong...
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