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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Iron Ladies 2  


Iron Ladies 2

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Directed by: Youngyooth Thongkonthun
Writing Credits: Youngyooth Thongkonthun
Starring: Sujira Arunpipat, Kokkom Benjathikoon
Genre: Comedy
Country: Thailand
Language: Thai
Year released: 2003
Runtime: 100 min
Rating: **½ (out of four stars)

There really isn't any reason to film The Iron Ladies 2 - the story arc in the original Iron Ladies was complete. But of course, that's no reason to milk a box office hit for all it's worth, and hence a sequel is born out of nowhere. Whereas the first movie is more or less based on fact, Iron Ladies 2 traces (fictitiously, if I am not mistaken) how the Iron Ladies became friends in the first place. In certain ways, Iron Ladies 2 improves upon its predecessor, fleshing out two of its
characters and adding some sentimentality not found in the original; however, it is also victim to poor editing and subtitling, and again raises the question of whether the audience is laughing with the characters or at them.

For the benefit of those who have not watch The Iron Ladies, the titular group is a volleyball team comprising of a transsexual, a few homosexuals, and one straight man. Beating all odds, they managed to triumph over their opponents at the end of the first movie. As this sequel opens, we find that The Iron Ladies have split up - Nong (Giorgio Maiocchi), the muscular drag queen, has left the Ladies to join another team that's almost a clone of the Ladies. This greatly pisses Jung (Chaicharn Nimpoonsawas), arguably the most effeminate amongst the five key players in the team, who decides to disavow Nong's friendship completely.

In light of this disintegration, Jung and heterosexual teammate Chai (Jessadaporn Pholdee) somehow decides to embark on a trip to China to look for their ex-teammate Pia (Gokgorn Benjathikul), who is a transsexual and now back to performing in a cabaret. En route, the film flashes back to the beginning, where we see how Jung, Nong and some other Iron Ladies get to meet each other in university, and how Nong accepts his homosexuality. There are several, less important, subplots that deal with friends of the duo coming to terms with their own sexuality, as well as the customary final showdown, where the Iron Ladies pit their volleyball skills against a formidable team.

If the synopsis of The Iron Ladies 2 seems a bit haphazard, that's because it is a haphazard movie - subtitled movies have always been slightly harder to understand due to the language barrier, and it does not help that director Yongyoot Thongkongtoon flits from plot thread to plot thread with nary a warning. Perhaps it was really lost in the translation, but at times the movie is simply bewildering to watch. Yongyoot also assumes that viewers of the sequel have already watched
the original movie before, as he does not make any effort to provide any back-story for the Iron Ladies, other than the flashback sequences.

In an attempt to flesh out several of its characters, Yongyoot had reduced the roles of several other characters drastically, including Mon (Sahaphap Por) and the Coach (Shiriohana Hongsopon), and even Chai, the main character in the first movie, doesn't have too much screen time. Of course, this being a comedy, characterization comes after hilarity, and there are still plenty of laughs to be had, even if it tends towards lowbrow humour most of the time. The movie also makes attempts at being sympathetic towards homosexuality, but unfortunately it descends to making cheap jokes out of homosexuality ever so often, an occurrence also seen in the first movie. It does manage to hit the right note at times, but these moments are few and far between.

In a typical sports comedy, the final match is usually the most exciting, but in Iron Ladies 2 the showdown is flat and unexciting, largely due to the incoherent editing that makes most of the match indecipherable. Also contributing to this confusion is the inconsistency of the subtitles - at times it can be very good (watch out for a fantastic comment by Jung when he experiences dry mouth from nervousness), and at times it can be so bad, one starts to wonder if the subtitling company weren't always sober. Criticisms aside, The Iron Ladies 2 does manage to remain entertaining and funny despite its flaws, and as popcorn entertainment, it delivers. 

Final Word: Often amusing, and occasionally hilarious, Iron Ladies 2 is a fluffy crowd pleaser - but nothing more than that.