Ring Girls - The idea of women fighting conjures up all sorts of prejudices. It's seen as unwomanly, or women aren't thought of as able to fight, or the whole thing is treated as one more facet of male titillation. Ring Girls, in its stilted, misshapen way, shows that the female of the species is more than capable of pounding the hell out of the average Joe.
Gina, Tasha, Ardra, Christine and Lisa are five Las Vegas women who happen to train in Muay Thai under the gaze of Master Toddy. After achieving success in local bouts, the girls aim to travel to the home of Muay Thai, Thailand, and fight Thai ladies to prove their worth.
Ring Girls is certainly an odd film. Structured as a fictional narrative 'based on true events', it soon becomes clear that these are actually true events with a few cheesily scripted and acted scenes to provide a plot. The 'actors' all play themselves, the fights are all real and the narration of the 'star' Gina is a little cringeworthy. There are quite a few instances were the girls blather on about training themselves spiritually as well as physically, and an embarrassing couple of scenes involving the supposed face of the Las Vegas Thai underworld, warning Master Toddy that his dream of taking five bubbly American girls-next-door to kick ass in the homeland won't come true. These narrative elements unfortunately spill over into the meat of the film, as the clips of the bouts that we see are dubbed with horribly fake sound effects.
Aside from this unwise move the fights shine as bright, bone crunching-beacons of light in the cheesy wilderness. A few minutes of a bout with each of the girls is featured apart from two featuring Gina who closes the film with her match in Thailand. All the fights are brutal affairs and show off the Vegas girls' skill, but they don't really offer much in the way of spectacle - straight fighting can be found with less chaff in the various UFC style DVDs available and Muay Thai moves are on display with far greater spectacle in 'real' fictional movies like Ong Bak.
Apart from the novelty of lady fighting that doesn't revolve around lady flesh, there are whisps of a half decent documentary buried in here so it seems a shame that the creators went down the fictional route. However, close inspection of the credits sheds a little light:
"Although inspired by the Las Vegas International Fight Club ("LVIFC") and real persons and loosely based thereon, the characters, events and stories depicted herein are fictitious and any similarity to any real places, events or people is purely coincidental. The views opinions, events and actions expressed, depicted, portrayed or reflected herein do not necessarily represent the statements, actions or views of LVIFC or any related persons or entities, including, but not limited to, the persons depicted herein."
Buried somewhere in all that legalese is the reason why this was never made as a documentary picture. Reasons don't excuse the fact that this is neither a movie nor a decent doc, and is therefore a few clips of matches surrounded by fluff. While the clips are indeed pretty violent, the Thai girls that the Vegas five are pitted against are so scrawny that it hardly feels like a fair fight.
Despite the narrative aspirations, Ring Girls was obviously shot on the cheap with digital video, which would again have better suited a documentary. What's here is crisp and clean, and the audio quality is fine for what it is, though what does it matter when it mostly gives us the leaden voice-over, the cod-philosophical ramblings of the curiously Ricky Gervais-like Master Toddy and those shocking sound effects? The only extras found here are trailers for other Showbox titles. Strangely one of them is for Snoop Dogg's Buckwild Bus tour, the latest excuse for hip-hop related soft porn, which brings the disc's rating up from a 15 to an 18 and will no doubt make the disc seem all the more like a 'girlfight-as-fetish' title on the shelf. Maybe that's what they're hoping for?
There was potential in there somewhere, but now there's just a bit of a mess. With a plot that's poor by martial art plot standards this fails as a movie and with so little of the fights to offer it's hard to recommend for the action. A failure.