A Prayer Before Dawn (2018)


At the beginning of the story, we follow Billy, whose roses are not blooming in Thailand. He is addicted to apple, a popular drug that is a mixture of methamphetamine and caffeine, which is the reason why he does not have much success in the sport he plays. In addition, he works as a dealer, for which he is arrested and sent to the infamous Chiang Mai prison. There he will face various difficulties and will find a way out in Thai boxing (muay tai), which has its own competitions within the prison system.

Although he is a muscular man, a boxer who is able to endure a large amount of pain, Billy is a foreigner in an unknown country who is on the path of self-destruction. It is not wrong to conclude that he is more often under the influence of drugs than straight. This is confirmed by his arrival in prison, when he needs quite a lot of time to understand what happened to him. He is not abandoned by street defiance, which will lead him into dangerous situations. Crisis and drug use will only increase his confusion and confusion.

Billy is certainly not a flower, but the terrifying world of drugs and gangs inside the prison is too much even for him. The film was shot in real locations, without extras and with real prisoners, who do not seem at all naive with tattoos from head to toe, on the contrary. The environment is such that we are horrified by what we see, so we have an idea how difficult it was for Billy, who certainly did not like the fact that he is an addict, that he does not speak Thai and that there is no one close to send him money. The boxing competition was his way of saving his mind, but also of saving his life.

And Prayer Before Dawn was shot very realistically and we follow some kind of brutality almost all the time. From time to time, a detail attracts our attention, which bothers us much more than the characters themselves (prisoners sleep even though one of them took his own life). It is obvious that the director Jean-St├ęphane Sauvaire wanted to push us to prison together with Billy, and he completely succeeded in that. Almost every scene in the prison cell, in which there are at least fifty prisoners, brings with it anxiety and tests our tolerance. As for the fight scenes, they are much more convincing than I am used to.

The scenario is such that we exclusively follow Billy, without any side plots or events. Given the role and the way of filming, someone quite dedicated had to jump into the lead role. In that sense, Joe Cole crossed the game. He underwent physical transformation, fantastically presented self-destruction, crisis, fear of the unknown and perseverance. In the moments when he is caught by uncontrolled anger, he leaves a frightening impression and from time to time madness flashes in his eyes, which reminded me of John Shelby.