A documentary about the fighting men and boys of rural myanmar
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In the jungles of Eastern Myanmar the children grow up worshiping a different kind of sports idol. Here the ancient fighting art of Lethwei rules supreme, a brutal sport of nine limbs that attracts only the most ferocious fighters outside of its native country.
This new documentary goes where no other film crew has ventured before, into the heart of Myanmar's impoverished rural villages to find the true Lethwei that survived even as the country around it was dominated by outside forces and military oppression.
We reveal the lives of the men who gained national recognition as masters of this bloody path, and follow the poverty-stricken youngsters who hope to emulate their success and stand on the top of a pile that encompasses a thousand years of history.
The journey So Far
We are huge combat sports fans at Irregular Film, and the journey to bring Myanmar's sport of kings to the screen began when we stumbled across some brutal Lethwei videos online. This sport was unlike anything we'd ever seen! Headbutts, bare-knuckle, mandatory knockouts, it felt like we had found a time capsule from the days of the gladiators. From there, we started to wonder. Why didn't more people know about this sport? And who were the warriors that dedicated their lives to the art?
We arrived in Myanmar in February 2020, and started to explore these questions and more. We began to film Lethwei events and have already captured arguably the most dynamic and cinematic footage of the sport to date. Just check out the intro sequence from our second podcast!
We have interviewed two of Lethwei's premier stars already, the legendary Tun Tun Min, and the new kid on the block, Shwe Yar Man, who seeks to usurp his throne as the best Burmese fighter alive. Both of these fighters hail from Mon State, the region where Lethwei survived while British colonial rule and the subsequent isolationist military junta stamped the sport out throughout the rest of the country.
These two fighters are scheduled to meet eachother in a momentous bout that will decide the title of best combatant from this fighting heartland. This hugely significant fight simply guarantees to be a historic event. And we'll be ringside, filming the action!
Tun Tun Min (left) and Shwe Yar Man (right) training for the upcoming "Battle of Mon State"
Of course, the fighters at the top of the game are only part of the tale. Our documentary will focus on the entire story, like the teenage scrappers who hail from impoverished rural villages, following the only accessible path to glory on offer. And what happens after a fighter retires? The undisputed stars of the sport receive just a few thousand dollars for a fight. For the average fighter, what is waiting for them after a career that demands so much from their minds and bodies?
Like the rest of the world, Coronavirus reared its unwelcome head in Myanmar, which had unfortunate repercussions for the Lethwei schedule, and derailed our plans to finish production in the summer of 2020. But fortunately, it seems like the worst of the pandemic is over, and normality will soon recommence! When it does, we'll be busy resuming our quest to bring this ancient sport and the warriors behind it to your screen.
Follow us on our Burmese journey, getting to the heart of one of humanity's most ancient, interesting and little-known combat sports. Leave your email in the box below and we will keep you updated on our quest. We'll keep you close to the heart of the action, with videos of village tournaments, bouts with national pride on the line, and the lives of the heroes whose tales have never been told outside the borders of this wonderful country.