The Iron Ladies


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The British love the underdog. If anything like this had happened closer to home, Billy Elliot's director would have been hauled in to make a popular feelgood movie and frosty colonels from the depths of Perthshire might shut up for a minute about expelling nancy boys to Zimbabwe.

Thailand is just as homophobic. When a team of transvestites, raging queens, a straight girl and a lesbian coach enter the national volleyball championships and start doing rather well, the whole country gets excited.

The Iron Ladies, which is what they call themselves, become incredibly popular, making their opponents even more determined to beat them. The Ladies respond by mincing about the court and playing to the crowd. It is as funny as camp cabaret, but hardly sport.

Half the girl/guy actors look incapable of playing anything rougher than tiddleywinks. They like the makeup and the outfits, but that stuff with the big ball is far too frantic.

For this reason, there are no proper practice sessions, where you can follow the progress of individual players. You are told who are good, but you don't see it. In films such as Cool Runnings, A League Of Their Own and, to a greater extent, Girlfight an understanding of what they are up against can be judged by how they perform in training.

Essentially a queer comedy about something that took place in real life, the film tiptoes around the problem of being a woman in a male body. "There are no happy endings for gays. Let's play volleyball."

For those who do not understand Thai be warned: the subtitles are against a white background much of the time and appear especially small.

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 2001
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Transvestites, queens, a couple of straight guys and a girl join volleyball team for the nationals
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Director: Yongyoot Thongkonthoon

Writer: Youngyooth Thongkonthun

Starring: Jesdaporn Pholdee, Sashapart Virakamin, Akkachai Buranaphanit

Year: 2000

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Thailand


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