Thai Cave Rescue, with a name as simple as if it was titled to please SEO, was released as a limited series on Netflix just recently on September 22. Some people love it, but let’s just say it won’t be nominated for an Oscar, or an Emmy, or anything anytime soon.
We can all still remember the incident in 2018 (yes, it was four years ago), when 12 kids and their soccer coach got stuck in a cave in Chiang Rai. Their 18 days of survival in the already-flooded area surrounded by nothing but walls of rocks and ceiling of stalactites had people across Thailand sleepless, keeping up on social media, and glued to the TV. As news spread that they were all safe, a sigh of relief was heard across the country.
Four years on, there have been two documentaries and two films portraying the event. All have been met with, well, ‘critical’ reviews. So, it is understandable that when yet another one comes out, many have not been holding their breaths. Now the reviews are in — there are some things about Thai Cave Rescue that deserve to be praised, and some bits that should’ve be left in the cooker for a while longer.
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Thai Cave Rescue on Netflix: The Good and the Not-So-Good
The good parts:
Urassaya Sperbund, popularly known as Yaya, is still bringing her A-game to every role she plays.
It feels authentic and written from a Thai perspective. The children aren’t the “foreign” people just waiting to be rescued. Instead, the divers are the foreign ones to the kids. This adds relatability and good for dramatisation.
The series actually displays fear quite well, with the lack of food and water, as well as living in an enclosed space for a long period of time.
Because of the Thai perspective, this gets rid of the “white saviour” trope Hollywood loves, which is present in some of the other films and documentaries.
“It’s emotional and moving without feeling stereotypically exoticised,” as Vice points out.
The not-so-good parts:
Yaya’s part may not be written well enough, with IGN saying it became distracting to see the actress “play what seems to be a parody of a Thai American poorly trying to connect to her Thai roots,” which takes away the seriousness of the show.
TIME points out how the story is becoming diluted in terms of writing. With the story being portrayed many times in the short span of a couple of years, there needs to be a new spin on it to actually feel refreshing to the audience.
Even though the series presents fear and drama well at parts, “it sometimes overreaches in making the case that this incident was tense, scary, and upsetting — making a story that lends itself very easily to drama into a strained melodrama,” says Variety.
Many Thais are already over the story, with a portion seeing it being the children and the coach’s faults for blatantly ignoring the warnings and obvious danger venturing in the cave on their own, especially in the rainy season. The feeling of sympathy and the appeal of the story have thereby been tarnished.
What do you think of Thai Cave Rescue on Netflix? Fail, success, or will there be yet another adaptation in the works that aims to convince us otherwise?
You can watch the limited series on Netflix here and see for yourself if it’s worth the shot.
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok