Film Review: Buffalo Girls (2013)

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© Copyright 2012 Buffalo Girls Movie

Stam and Pet are two eight year old girls living in Thailand. Stam is a cute, normal-looking girl. She has stuffed animals and is a shy little girl. Pet has a shaved head, with a section of long hair in the back, and has a heart condition. This image of normalcy, however, is shattered when director Todd Kellstein shows the two girls fighting in an underground muay thai kickboxing match in Buffalo Girls, a 2013 documentary.

According to the documentary, there are 30,000 child boxers in Thailand. The fighting is real, and it’s for money.

She boxes for money to get an education, Stam says in the film.

Another boxer, age 10, says she boxes to take care of her mom and dad.

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Pet running after school. © Copyright 2012 Buffalo Girls Movie

The narrative of the film follows Stam and Pet as they train. Six days a week, the girls workout – running, weight lifting and working the heavy bag – in order to help support their families. The girls are very different in nature. Stam is shy, but smiles a lot. She appears to enjoy the training regimen. Pet has more of a laser focus, rarely smiling.

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Stam (left) taking a right cross from Pet (right) © Copyright 2012 Buffalo Girls Movie

As a child of western culture, I found some of the fighting, and especially the way the girls are treated in the corner, to be shocking. But as the story unfolds, I realized that fighting is a way to get out of poverty. What impressed me was how serious the girls viewed their responsibility to the family. Also a career in kickboxing can mean these girls will be able to avoid the common career of many your Thai women, sex work.

It’s also important to understand that kickboxing is to Thailand what Baseball is to Americans, a culture-defining activity.

This is a good documentary with two likable characters in a difficult situation. There’s no narration in the film, Kellstein simply presents the situation. If I have one complaint about documentaries, it’s that they tend to run too long. Buffalo Girls is 66 minutes in length and moves quickly. My only complaint is the movie has a grainy look, possibly due to the low-lighting of the matches and the equipment used to document the story. The fights are brutal, but there’s no blood in the shots. The movie’s unrated, but I’d give it a PG for fighting.

If your kids complain about taking out the trash or doing homework, I suggest you have them watch Buffalo Girls. Taking out the trash isn’t fun, but it’s better than getting beat up by another kid while fighting in the middle of a brothel.

©  Paul George and The Reno Signal, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Paul George and The Reno Signal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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A few thoughts about David Bowie

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David Bowie, 1949-2016

The death of a celebrity is not something I would usually write about. However, David Bowie died today at age 69, and I’m deeply saddened by it.

As a child of the 70s and 80s, Bowie was an ever-present talent. From his starchild Ziggy Stardust persona to the Thin White Duke, he was ever changing in style. When New Wave hit the airwaves in the early 80s, he was already there with Scary Montsters.

He was one of the handful or artists that inspired me to learn to play guitar and try to write songs.

Bowie will live forever. He gave us decades of music, from folk to classic rock to avant garde.

Honestly, I have nothing poignant to say, no epiphany to share. I loved the man’s sense of style and his music. My favorite album by Bowie is Hunky Dory. If you’ve never listened to it, check it out.

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through – “Changes”

You will be missed starman …