The Iron Ladies (2000)
Main cast: Jessadaporn Pholdee, Sahapap Virakamin, Ekachai Buranapanit, Giorio Maiocchi, Chaicharn Nimpoonsawas, Gokgorn Benjathikul, Siridhana Hongsopon, Jojo Mioxshi, and Pormasith Siticharoengkul
Director: Yongyoot Thongkongtoon


The Iron Ladies is an "inspiring movie about members at the fringes of society overcoming obstacles and prejudice". Thus, this supposedly autobiographical movie about a bunch of transsexuals, transvestites, or just gay folks representing District 5 and winning the National Volleyball tournament can go either way: pure schmaltz or uplifting inspiration.

The Iron Ladies chooses to go overboard with the schmaltz at the cost of credibility or even good storytelling. Filled with cheap, bastardized philosophies and hackneyed storytelling, TIL may as well be Mighty Ducks 3.

The story revolves around an irritatingly moralizing female couch Bee (she can give Robin Williams lessons in being irritatingly condescending at the same time that she is being as dull as dough) taking a chance in accepting a motley crue of misfits in her team. Apart from the straight pretty boy Chai, there are transvestites Mon and Jung, the muscular and effeminate Nong, the transsexual Pia, and shy, timid Daddy's boy Wit who is still in the closet where his parents are concerned.

Will they win? Of course! Chai will get discomfited by his outrageous teammates, and this is a good excuse to soup up hackneyed, shallow "We are all brothers" rhetorics. The team is over the top in their outrageous camp behavior, to the point of being socially disruptive, but since they aren't straight, it's okay. There is also the obligatory sneering homophobe who will be dispatched as the crowd of (I guess) straight people cheer the Iron Ladies on.

Sure, the Iron Ladies are talented in volleyball, but this movie ultimately reduce them into caricatures. Slap on Revlon make-up on your face with a brick trowel, and you will be on top. That's all that matters - not talent, not ability, it's your sexuality that matters.

It's quite sad, really, when a movie that tries to make a statement about prejudice and all ends up turning its subject matters into one-dimensional symbols. Throwaway attempts at depicting loneliness and gay angst ultimately fly out the window for some cheap, shallow feel-good muzak. The lowest denominator in entertainment.

All fluff and no substance, the sad thing about this movie is that were not for the "daring" gay-centered theme, the movie will be relegated to the video rack, between Mighty Ducks and Cool Runnings.

Rating: 58


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