Muay Thai Ring Girls Review
For anyone new to Muay Thai, it is, along with the likes of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Krav Maga, the martial art du jour. What kung fu and ninjas were to the seventies and what karate was to the eighties, Muay Thai is to now, thanks to the popularity of it in such contests as the PRIDE Fighting Championships, K-1 and the UFC. Somewhat related to kickboxing, it uses a swift combination of feet, elbows, knees and fists to a quite astonishing effect. No doubt following on from it being heavily featured in Ong-Bak, there is now a noticeable tide of interest behind it and until such time as comes along an even more brutal martial art, perhaps one in which heads are literally impaled on a spike in the middle of the ring, Muay Thai will continue to float at the frothy surface of the martial arts tank.
Muay Thai Ring Girls...not my first women-in-the-ring DVD since joining this site and doubtless not my last either. And yet two features is all that it takes for there to be a certain inevitability about what will follow. Surrounded by a crowd who may try and convince themselves that watching such a spectacle is all in a night’s entertainment, two women kick, punch and elbow one another until a referee draws a halt to the bloody affair. Akin to boxing, each fighter has a corner, within which sits a trainer, someone whose duty it is to look concerned whilst holding a towel and another soul with the responsibility for first aid but, frankly, who I wouldn't trust with the prescribing of Haliborange. At some point, said medic will attempt to halt the flow of blood by pushing both sides of the wound together whilst the trainer may well slap the canvas of the ring several times. Oh, and there's a skinny woman in a vest who walks around the ring holding up a card with the number of the next round on it. I suspect she is needed because with there being twelve rounds, that's two rounds more than the majority of the audience can count to with the aid of their fingers and offers a simple solution to hundreds of men in an arithmetical panic as a fight winds down to a judge's decision.
What the makers of Muay Thai Ring Girls have attempted to do is to place these fights into some kind of dramatic structure, involving the girls themselves, their mentor Master Toddy and a trip to Thailand to bring their skills to the local girls. There is, for shame, actually something of a plot here, which rather gets in the way of the fights and serves as much of a point as do the plots of various porn movies, albeit replacing the heaving buttocks and gaping vaginas with bloodied noses, the smack of gloves on flesh and bouncing breasts. However, in as much as, when watching an adult movie, one puts up with the nonsense about customs and a suitcase full of panties, a female doctor and a penis examination or a female farm worker and her randy dog, so one watches the training sessions with a certain amount of boredom, waiting them out until the next bout. Worse, though, is the voiceover that's been included, which is on a par with the pre-fight chatter from boxers that's included in a bid to stretch out The Big Fight, less actual insight than something between entertainment and revealing the man or woman behind the gloves and gum shield. As you'll understand, there isn't a great deal to learn from someone who gets beaten about the head for a living but that doesn't stop these girls searching for depth in their struggles in the ring. However, there's much more personality in the dearly departed Mr Miyagi's, "Wax on, wax off!" than in Muay Thai Ring Girls' self-aggrandising prattle.
Despite the 18-certificate, there isn't actually any nudity in this so any hairy-palmed chaps hoping to see the girls' breasts will be out of luck. The five girls do sleep together but they do so within individual sleeping bags within a boxing ring and so we're left with just the Muay Thai, which, though frequently vicious, isn't a patch on what you'll see in the UFC or as practiced by the likes of Buakaw Por.Pramuk. I'm not going to say that this is because they're women, more that they're amateurs and in Muay Thai Ring Girls, one is seeing the gulf that exists between professional fighters and those work the amateur circuit. With so many professional martial arts films about, there's no real need to slum it with this. Even less so with the likes of the spectacular martial arts in Ong-Bak being so freely available.
Presented in 1.78:1 and anamorphically transferred, this doesn't actually look that bad, albeit from a video source. However, the colours are rich and detail is fine but it all looks very much like a BBC-produced travel show were it to include frequent bouts of Muay Thai, which, thinking about it, would certainly be a bonus if it meant seeing Nick Knowles booted about a ring. It isn't a very interesting image, nor one that catches the eye of the viewer but it's not let down by any obvious faults and though there's many of the same problems that might be seen on any digital transfer, they're not a good deal worse than usual.
The DD2.0 audio track is much the same, not bad and able to serve its purpose but no better than that. However, it is let down by the obvious use of audio effects with each punch or kick that lands being accompanied by a sound that akin to two sides of beef crashing against one another.
There are no extras on this DVD release.