Coming to Showtime tomorrow, Friday, February 24:
PRISON FIGHTERS: 5 ROUNDS TO FREEDOM
Showtime (February 2017)
A profile of Thailand’s prison boxing program, which reduces sentences and offers occasional pardons for successful boxers.
Brown’s film explores the unusual prison fight program, a modern day update of a legendary story about the originator of Muy Thai, who successfully won his own freedom by taking on ten Burmese fighters back-to-back in 1774. Thai wardens saw the prestige that they could gain from having winning prisoners – and suggests that they could profit from it – and have developed prison fight as a rehabilitation program for the crowded, dangerous prison system. The focus here is on Noy Khaopan, a convicted murderer who may see a potential pardon if he wins his next bout, against American Cody Moberly, a white professional fighter briefly profiled here, who escaped drug abuse by coming to Thailand, exploring spirituality, and working the Thai boxing circuit. Also included here is the story of Oh Sirimongkol Singwangcha, a former American-style boxer who achieved celebrity only to find himself in prison on trumped-up drug possession charges. After participating in the prison fight program, Oh eventually won his pardon, and now is able to use what’s left of his fame to eke out a living via Muy Thai boxing. Noy is followed as he trains for his fight, with his parents and young son pinning their hopes on his success so he can rejoin them as a family. On the flip side, the parents of the young man Noy impulsively murdered are also heard from, who would rather see Noy die in prison. Brown hews a bit too close to sports film conventions – and is particularly hampered by overwritten narration – but the film nevertheless tackles an intriguing avenue toward redemption.