Joe Cole is magnificent as Billy Moore, who survived three years in a notorious Thai prison
Photo: Nonstop Entertainment
During the Luxembourg City Film Festival, Delano picks its film of the day. Today, a harrowing true story of a young Englishman incarcerated in one of Thailand's most notorious prisons.
Based on the incredible memoir of Liverpudlian boxer Billy Moore, “A Prayer Before Dawn” is a fresh and compelling take on the very familiar boxing and prison genres. Joe Cole, best known for playing John Shelby in “Peaky Blinders”, but also recently seen in a quite different role in the “Hang the DJ” episode of season four of “Black Mirror”, is magnificent as Billy Moore.
We first meet him as he prepares for a boxing match in Thailand, but he is clearly a man who easily makes enemies and the following morning a dawn raid on his apartment leads to his arrest for possession of drugs. Moore does not hide the fact that he was a petty criminal and drug addict in Liverpool, though little of his back story is revealed in the film. Jean-Stephane Sauvaire directs with brutal efficiency. Getting straight down to the nitty-gritty, the director has Moore in prison within the opening 10 minutes of the film.
Watch the trailer to “A Prayer Before Dawn”
The Klong Prem prison houses up to 20,000 inmates, and conditions are crammed. Moore finds a spot to sleep in a sea of tattooed torsos, and awakens to a nasty surprise. He is the only foreigner in his section of the prison, and soon learns its savage code of conduct. But Moore has a particular skill set, his ability to box and take physical punishment in the ring. This, in addition to a Scouse knack for talking his way out of trouble, provides him with the opportunity to survive and even seek redemption. A tender relationship with a transsexual, played by Pornchanok Mabklang, provides Moore with temporary escape from the boxing matches and the relentless machismo attention of the prison block gangs.
The action is fast and furious, and the fight scenes are superbly choreographed by David Ismalone. The film may call to mind that great prison film by another French director, Jacques Audiard’s "Un Prophet", or even Alan Parker’s “Midnight Express”, as well as any number of classic boxing movies. But it is a brilliant and ferociously paced film--much of it shot in the real Klong Prem--that will leave audiences breathless and emotionally charged.
“A Prayer Before Dawn” is being screened at 9 p.m. at Kinepolis Kirchberg