A Prayer Before Dawn

A biopic of Billy Moore, the British boxer who was incarcerated in Thailand and went on to become the first foreigner to fight in the national prison kickboxing tournament.

I do kinda feel this movie falls into the category of It Shouldn’t Happen To White People films. These are movies where you take events which happen to thousands of people of colour, find the one white guy who went through it, then tell his story.

It is excellently crafted for all that. The film relies on sound, rather than dialogue, to tell its story. Billy spoke little Thai when going in to prison, so very little that is said to him is actually subtitled. The audience, like the character, has to feel their way through the experience. Instead, the language of the film is the thump of a punchbag, the breath of the character, the whump of dance music, the bubbling of heroin in its foil, the knocking on the door, the clank of chains, the wash of noise from the body of prisoners.

You do route for this guy despite him being an incredibly ugly character. He is the kind of guy that makes you think about how the good seem to perish so easily and yet this guy who acts like nothing more than a vicious animal, beating people almost to death, despite all the heroin he does and all the fights he gets into, he survives. He is not a nice guy. And yet that is kinda the journey of the film, to take this very unsympathetic man and have him try to fight his way back to his humanity. He uses kickboxing to give himself discipline, to restore his dignity and keep himself off the skag.

Outside of the actual kickboxing scenes, which are excellent, violence proliferates throughout this film. There is a very prolonged and explicit gang-rape scene. In my own opinion, it did not need to be as graphic as it was.

On another note, given what I said about the previous film, this movie does appear to have trans women played by trans women. The characters serve primarily as love interests and sex objects, but at least they seem to be appropriately cast.

I’m not someone with an interest in boxing or kickboxing, but this a visceral movie, an attempt at redemption for someone who really needs it and that carries you through the whole brutal journey.