Better than Mighty Ducks 

...But Just Barely

Iron Ladies
dir. Thongkonthun
Opens Sat Feb 23
Cinema 21

Do you remember that movie The Mighty Ducks? It's the classic underdog-comes-from-behind film, and involves time-passing scenes in which people are lifting weights with great enthusiasm, while gaining both confidence and heart. Gag. As in Mighty Ducks, when this formula is slapped onto sports movies, the film often caters to children; but now, we've got one such movie for adults. It's about Thai, volleyball-playing transsexuals.

Mon (Sahaphap Tor) and Jung (Chaicharn Nimpulsawasdi) are two gay volleyball players, but they don't make the college team because they flame so hard, and volleyball culture in Thailand is extremely homophobic. But then the national team hires Coach Bee, a hard-assed dyke who decides the whole team needs to be reselected. Because of Coach Bee, Mon and Jung decide they should try out again; this time, however, they invite all their flaming friends to try out, too. Coach Bee is the first person to tolerate the gay volleyball players, and since she doesn't make fun of them--and doesn't tolerate others making fun of them--all the straight team members quit, leaving Coach Bee with a team full of gay and tranny players.

Because this film is based on a true story, and because it's Thai, I had some hope that it wouldn't be completely predictable. Unfortunately, it seems that people in Thailand have also seen Mighty Ducks. The film follows its conventions down to the last detail, including the interpersonal subplots and romances between team players--which are, of course, expressed on the court, and in the final, climactic volleyball scene.

However, the subject matter makes it far better than Mighty Ducks, as it is somewhat interesting to see some gay, Thai volleyball players. It seems that in Thailand, it's okay to gay bash outright, and to tell people things as frankly as, "I don't like you because you're gay." These aspects of the film are interesting from a sociological perspective. Otherwise--unless you loved Mighty Ducks--I wouldn't bother.

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