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The Iron Ladies (Sa Tree Lex)

Threat advisory: Elevated - Significant risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Winners are not born, they're made... up!

Based on an amazing true story, The Iron Ladies (Sa Tree Lex) follows the steady march of a volleyball team composed mostly of transsexuals, transvestites and some rather effeminate gay guys to the Thai Men's National Championships in 1996.

Facing the taunts of other players and officials, they fight back with some shrewd if unusual tactics and a growing legion of fans. With a squad full of endearing characters, they capture the nation's imagination of what true sportsmanship is all about.

This delightful, warm-hearted romp is a crowd-pleaser you cannot help but fall in love with.

Persons of interest

  • Jesdaporn Pholdee .... Chai
  • Sahaphap Tor .... Mon
  • Ekachai Buranapanit .... Wit
  • Giorgio Maiocchi .... Nong
  • Chaicharn Nimpulsawasdi .... Jung
  • Kokkorn Benjathikoon .... Pia
  • Shiriohana Hongsopon .... Coach
  • Phomsit Sitthijamroenkhun .... April
  • Sutthipong Sitthijamroenkhun .... May
  • Anucha Chatkaew .... June
  • Visuttchai Boonyakarnjawa .... Screenwriter
  • Jira Maligool .... Screenwriter
  • Youngyooth Thongkonthun .... Screenwriter
  • Youngyooth Thongkonthun .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Screaming queens.

There's something about an Asian poofter that really gives meaning to the word "girlie". Now, I'm as broad-minded as anyone but even I was cringing at the hugely outrageous effeminacy of little Jung (I like my gay boys big, strong and masculine: butch). And there's the rub: The Iron Ladies is as much about developing tolerance as it is about an underdog sports team taking it all the way to the top. Asian countries are even less tolerant than Australia when it comes to diversity: they have uninterrupted traditions of male and female roles that go back thousands of years, not to mention a patrilineal power base that's just as long. The invasion by Christianity just made things worse.

On the up side, the oppression faced and overcome by the ladies is realistic: seen through the eyes of Chai, the only straight guy on the team, homophobia goes from something that gays and lesbians deserve to something they suffer every day to something that no-one should ever have to face. There's no great conversion (thank the goddess), just a slow realisation that people are people. His team-mates run the gamut from closeted "straight acting" (you don't realise that they're gay until they tell you) to full on transgender (you don't realise that they're men until they tell you) so he gets a deep-end course in overcoming his prejudices.

There are some preachy moments but you can forgive them because they're aimed at the Thai people, not us open-minded Aussies. It takes a long time to pull up the roots of bigotry so they don't send up new shoots all over again.

As for funny, well, if you thought that Priscilla, Queen of the desert was camp, then you ain't seen The Iron Ladies. Flaming homosexuals, Tragic Little Scene Queens, limp wrists, glitter, gossip, tinsel and glamour: they're all there. The hissy fits and spats between certain players are so real that you know these boys have an inside edge on the characterisation of their characters. It's camp!

Love them or loathe them, The Iron Ladies will get under you skin and make you a different person, like it or not.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level coarse language, adult theme)

Surveillance time

104 minutes (1:44 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 23 January 2002

Cinema surveillance images

The Iron Ladies (Sa Tree Lex) image

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