Beautiful Boxer Review

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Young Thai kick-boxing champion harbours secret desires to be a woman.


Prinya Charoenphol (aka Nong Toom) is one of the most remarkable figures in Asian sport. He not only achieved fame in the bruising world of Thai kickboxing, but did so while harbouring the desire to undergo a sex change. Yet debuting director Ekachai Uekrongtham relates this compelling story as a stylish-but-simple chronicle of obstacles, never delving into the sexual psyche of his hero (played with sweet pugnacity by ex-pro Asanee Suwan). Consequently, Nong Toom rises from grinding poverty to Bangkok celebrity without getting his lipstick smudged. His cross-dressing secret is nearly discovered during stays at a Buddhist monastery and a muay thai training camp, but there's little social controversy involved until he reaches the top and, even then, his fists and feet do most of the talking.

Stylish and straightforward telling of this poignant story but slightly lacking in any psychological or emotional depth.