The Right Hook Redemption
A Prayer Before Dawn (2017): 7 out of 10: True story of English boxer Billy Moore, who gets busted for drugs in Thailand and ends up in prison, where he hopes to use his boxing skills to gain his freedom.
What is it with the boxing in prison movies lately? There is a ton of these recently. Close to a dozen just between the Never Back Down, Undisputed and Bloodfist movies. I confess I have never been a fan of prison films, to begin with. While adding boxing gives a little focus to the films, that often drift in their own self-importance and melodrama, it doesn’t always eliminate the cliche train that is coming down the tracks. Now we have a true story about a guy in a foreign prison who boxes his way to freedom (No, not really, but we will get to that).
The Good: The first half of this movie is brilliant. They throw you in the prison with the character. And if you don’t speak the local lingo (I don’t) you are as lost as the character in this hellhole. The decision not to put in subtitles turns out to be a brilliant one. One of the best representations of the hopelessness and fear of being in a prison I have ever seen. And this guy is a boxer, and you are scared for him.
The Bad: Billy Moore is an idiot. I don’t mean that to be harsh. He wrote his own biography. I am sure he knows what an idiot he was. To use an example, he falls for a lady boy. (Not that there is anything wrong with that). The idiot part is where he risks his “big break” by going into a jealous rage because he catches his lady boy um.. servicing another client. I don’t have the heart to even explain how juvenile and stupid this is. And this is only one example.
The movie also goes down the well worn getting clean path. In fact, Billy Moore’s life is so full of tropes and cliches I half expected him to have a necklace whose secret symbol meant he was a prince.
The Ugly: There is a scene in this movie that makes me never want to watch it again. I won’t spoil it, but don’t worry, you will figure it out. It is an effective scene, mind you, but like some horror films, it isn’t something I would want to experience again.
In Conclusion: I am not sure Billy Moore actually boxed his way out of prison. I think his family figured out where he was and started working on the Foreign Office to arrange his release. The movie seems to sort of acknowledge that, but like everything else; it is a bit cloudy and well foreign. The first half of the movie is incredible, however. Well worth the watch before the cliches pile up.
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