REVIEW: Buffalo Girls (2012)

buffalogirls

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2012, Virgil Films/108 Media

Director:
Todd Kellstein
Producers:
Lanette Phillips
Jonathan Ker
Editing:
Zimo Huang

Cast:
Stam Sor Konlek (Herself)
Pet Chor Chanachai (Herself)

This documentary focuses on the world of Muay Thai kickboxing and two fighters whom you would never expect to be involved in the sport: two eight-year old girls.

Stam Sor Konlek and Pet Chor Chanachai are two eight-year old girls who have two things in common. They come from impoverished families and they are both Muay Thai kickboxers. In the sport, there are over 30,000 child boxers in Thailand, but these two have a goal in mind. Matched in size, they have mutual respect for each other in a rivalry in which Stam is the 22-kilo Junior Muay Thai champion. Their first match together, Pet was the victor. In their rematch, Stam won due to Pet being a last minute replacement. The rubber match is for the championship and the winner will receive 100,000 baht.

This riveting 64-minute documentary by Todd Kellstein, who actually came up with the idea while working on a documentary about prisons in Thailand, takes a look not only at the training of our two young fighters in the film, but a look at the hardships they endure when it comes to their families. The term “buffalo” in Thailand has a double meaning, one meaning the fighting spirit and a derogatory term for “farmer”.

While our fighters Stam and Pet both come from poor families, they find themselves enduring their own hardships, from Pet being born with a heart condition that was fixed not too long before she became a kickboxer while Stam, to help her family when not fighting, works with her mom at the local fruit stand. The fact we constantly see these two girls smile when at home with their folks truly shows the closeness the family bonds have as well as the parents’ support for their children being kickboxers in a world where poor families can resort to doing something far worse to support their family life.

Stam comes from a fighting family with her father being a former kickboxer himself while Pet comes from a family who feels her fighting is not only good for her family life but for herself as a way to overcome what she had went through as a baby. It would be unfair to root for either one of these girls, but instead feel for them as we see them get berated by their trainers when they lose a match. Seeing people complain about why each one didn’t win their fight only brings a sense of emotion and it is clear these two will do what they can to make their families’ live better.

Buffalo Girls is an inviting look at the world of two young fighters who despite their poor backgrounds find their peace in the ring. The fact these two girls have a rivalry that also upholds respect and their acceptance of their livelihood makes this even more a worthy look.

WFG RATING: A

DVD

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