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24 June 2019

The beast's burden.

by Andrew MacGregor


Short Films: “Animal” - 5 mins 40s

Director Thomas Kelly's bristling study of Muay Thai fighter James Chaney could be termed a nature documentary, so in tune is the protagonist with his beastly side. The Californian insists he must "think like an animal" during a bout, both as a form of attack and of defence. As Kelly makes clear, Chaney is a vulnerable yet potent breed.

We're told Chaney emigrated from the United States to Southeast Asia to - for want of a better phrase - "pick a fight" with anyone willing to take him on. He's been in demand ever since, yet the standard of competition means victory is never guaranteed. The opening shot of Chaney's bloodied face proves it.

The fights themselves are blurry, fraught affairs, with one or two brutal hits made painfully clear for all to see, hear, and feel. Together with Chaney's coiled-spring narration, it's a worthy and expressive look at one man-slash-beast's desire to fight.


Film Production: Fresh Films
Director: Thomas Kelly
Producer: Kim Griffin / Simon Petter / Whicha Khokapun
Cinematographer: Hunter Daly
Editor: Alexandre Andre
Location: Khong 12 Old Market, Thailand, Bangkok

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