Cinema Epoch // 2006 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 23rd, 2007
And you thought your downhill skiing and mountain biking and base-jumping was dangerous? Pansy.
Hundreds of miles away from Bangkok, in the remote wilds of Thailand, lies the small village of Ban Kok Sa-Nga. With a population of 655, one wouldn't think that the craziest dudes on the planet live there. But they do, and they're called King Cobra Snake Boxers. That's right, King Cobra Snake Boxers. Don't let the fact that the name sounds like a basketball team from a community college's intramural sports league deter you from the truth: these Thai guys bring it.
Thank you director Tom Tavee for bringing me this look into the world of King Cobra Snake Boxing. To think that I was living my life without knowing that a paltry thousands and thousands of miles away there was a guy putting an 18 foot poisonous snake down his pants. That sight and more await you in this kick-ass documentary.
Tavee takes us to the town and kicks off his film with what the audience showed up to see: King Cobra Snake Boxing. And yes, that is exactly what it sounds like. Guys get on their knees, an ill-tempered King Cobra coiled inches away, staring him down and primed to strike at any sudden movements. And the boxers are full of sudden movements, tapping the snake on its neck, head-butting its face, even swallowing the frickin' thing. The snake, of course, strikes repeatedly, but the boxers have perfected the art of the Snaky Bite of Death Dodge. Most of the time.
These shows take place every day as a way to bring in tourist business and attract traders. The village has made a name for itself as being the one-stop spot for watching grown men risk their lives screwing around with humongous reptiles. Tavee brings us through the pastime, interviewing villagers and boxers, all of whom are enamored with the sport. Snake boxing has become a revenue generator and a cultural phenomenon, so much so that parents urge their children to take up the sport. The kids start with non-poisonous snakes, then eventually graduate up the big boys. Tavee captures all of this, including a creepy bit with a father proudly saying how he bought a cobra for his son to get him into the boxing and the kid looking a few degrees south of petrified that's he's actually going to have to square off with the thing.
Tavee then takes his camera to several of the all-star snake boxing personalities in the village. There's Serum Man, whose body is so pumped up with venom antibodies, anti-serum will knock him out. And my favorite, Kaosunn a near-suicidal boxer who gets bitten twice during the runtime of the film. The last nibble lands him in the nearby hospital. Two bites in two days and he's ready to perform again.
Really, this is a great little film. The death-defying scenes of man versus snake more than make the purchase worthwhile; I don't think I've ever seen this level of insanity before, made even crazier by the fact these guys treat their snake bites with a combination of cold water, herbs and prayer. Check it out.
Unfortunately, this nifty documentary fails to receive much of a DVD release. Full frame, 2.0 stereo, no extras. The guy with the snake in his pants deserved so much more...
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated