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Source — The Guardian

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A prayer before dawn review – kickboxing Thai prison epic goes the full Midnight Express

Reality-check for anyone who thought that life inside a Thai prison was a nice bed of roses, some kind of holiday camp. A Prayer Before Dawn is here to tell you that it ain’t, you slags, it’s actually a right bloody nightmare. There are fights in the yard and sexual assaults in the toilet. You have to sleep on the floor, packed in like sardines, and if the man beside you isn’t stone-cold dead already, you can lay pretty good odds he’ll have hung himself by the morning. And on top of all that, the food’s lousy too.

120 Beats per Minute review – passionate and defiant account of 80s Aids activism

Robin Campillo commemorates the legacy of direct-action group ACT UP with a movie that is tragic, urgent and full of cinematic life Read more Obviously I’m prepared to take Jean-Stephane Sauvaire’s film at its word, not least because it’s based on the bestselling memoir by Billy Moore (embodied here by Joe Cole), a young British drug addict who spent three years inside the notorious Klong Prem prison and then came out to bear witness. A Prayer Before Dawn duly goes full Midnight Express in its depiction of these horrors, right down to the savage inmates, brutish guards and the indecipherable shrieking when the lights go out. In its better moments, though, it also bears comparison with Jacques Audiard’s Un Prophète, another tale of a supposed lamb-to-the-slaughter who, against all the odds, found a way to survive and then thrive.

Billy, it transpires, possesses some decent boxing skills, together with the junkie’s art of wheedling favours out of people who wouldn’t otherwise give him the time of day. Before long he’s won the support of Fame (Pornachanok Mabklang), a fetching trans convict who provides the cigarettes which he then uses to bribe his way onto the boxing team. Once there he’s schooled in the sweet science of punching and kicking people to a pulp, and enjoys the added perks afforded to the jail’s pugilists, like glass in the window and a table to sit at. But the battles take their toll and his old bunkmates want paying. And now – wouldn’t you know it? – Billy’s literally fighting for his life.

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