“Farang Ba (Crazy White Foreigner)” is a documentary portrait of Craig Wilson, a virtually unknown (in the U.S. at least) amateur boxer. Wilson, however, isn’t just your average boxer, he’s also a Yale University and Harvard Law graduate and a 45 year-old international corporate attorney. A former United States native, Wilson currently works, resides and competes as an amateur boxer in Bangkok, Thailand. An American middle-aged attorney-boxer who fights 19 year-olds in Bangkok would be interesting enough, but, like athlete Lance Armstrong, Craig Wilson is also a cancer survivor. I don’t, however, think that a date with Sheryl Crow is in his future; he looks like a cross between Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates and has personality traits (and posture) shockingly similar to Gilbert Lowell from “Revenge of The Nerds”. To his credit, Wilson has great determination, a rather kind and humble nature (especially for a boxer) and a genuine love for the people and culture of Thailand; the documentary does an excellent job communicating this.
As if being a cancer survivor isn’t miraculous enough, Wilson’s condition was preceded by ulcerative colitis which I will not describe as I would like to enjoy lunch today. Let it suffice to say that you do not want to ever face a diagnosis that includes the words “ulcerative colitis”. Wilson eventually had to have his entire colon removed and has to permanently wear a colostomy bag. More disturbing than watching Craig get pummeled in the stomach during training, the documentary includes a sequence as upsetting as “Extreme Makeover”, where Wilson painstakingly changes his colostomy bag. For the first time in my life a film made me stop and think, I am really glad I have a colon. Due to his medical condition, Craig is not able to compete as an amateur boxer in the U.S., a fact that he seems fine with; he very obviously has great regard for Thailand and the friends he has made there.
“Farang Ba” is a decent film that, unlike many of its documentary portrait comrades, is not too long and/or drawn out. Though it briefly touches on the culture of Thailand, the documentary isn’t much more than a portrait of Craig Wilson, not that there is anything wrong with that. Director, John Sullivan shot the film with a small budget and a skeleton crew and it shows, but, the content is interesting and it’s a worthwhile documentary with a positive spirit.