Directed By: Jean-Stephane Suavarie
Written By: Jonathan Hirschbein & Nick Saltrese
Cinematography By: David Ungaro
Editor: Marc Boucrot 

Cast: Joe Cole 

Billy Moore, an English boxer, down on his luck, addicted to Ya Ba, and stuck in Thailand, ends up getting arrested and sent to Chiang Mai Prison, where he struggles to survive and eventually ends up fighting in Muay Tai boxing tournaments.

Based on a true story, This film was shot on location inside a real prison using real prisoners.

The film makes you forget you are watching a film. It feels more like an experience that is interactive and like a documentary. Nothing feels fake or dramatized throughout. It makes you feel like you are always in the middle of it all, surrounded. It should be titled WELCOME TO HELL that is how harrowing it feels and plays.

The film has an amazing natural performance by Joe cole. It never feels like he or anyone is acting or putting in a performance there is no vanity. It’s a purely physical performance. Where it is actually shocking to hear him speak, looking like a sheep surrounded by wolves who are natural predators.

This film feels more like a hardcore modern day version of MIDNIGHT EXPRESS. As with most prison films it deals with the indignities. With the kinds of scares and experences you expect as with the requisite setbacks and relapses. As this is a journey through a personal hell that is all encompassing and unfortunately exists physically.

A British young man in a foreign land, Thailand where he doesn’t speak the language or entirely know any of the customs. Is more or less thrown into it. We learn as he does we only understand it get subtitles when he actually understands. Which again aligns us with him throughout. So we experience the story as he does. Making his way through any success and it doesn’t take any of the danger of his surroundings away.

You get the feeling the character is running from something. As he is drug addicted and eventually tries to find humanity and well as sanity. Which isn’t really being offered.

This is one of those films that you admire the technical aspects and what went into the making of the film and what was achieved, but it’s not a film once you watch it that you will be motivated to ever need to watch again and if you do not too many times. But would give it a solid recommendation.

Near the halfway point the character relaizes he can’t continue nor does he want to, when Muay Thai comes into his life as a kind of focus and a stab at redemption. Keeping him sharp. As fighting seems to be his only skill and forms a coping mechanism Of sorts. Out of dreary predicament if even for a little while.

All the horrors one comes to expect, Just when you believe the worst has come or are finding yourself getting used to it. The film manages to make it even more shocking or being the situation lower. To a point at times where it seems relentless the brutality and intensity.

Fighting and training seem to be the only things that are pure and honest and untainted which is ironic as many see the sport as so corrupt these days. That he can’t let get diluted as everything else seems to looking for truth and escape in a corrupt place. Trying to do the right thing toward the end as he has nowhere to go , no real escape and all he seeks is some breaths of freedom but know he can never truly be free.

This is one of those films surrounded by many but can feel a certain loneliness plus getting used to surroundings where you are taking out aggression and emotions

Grade: A

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