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The Real Bangkok Hilton (2004)
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The Real Bangkok Hilton (2004)

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Michael Connell is only 19; thin and frail a supermarket worker from Manchester, his lawyers say he has a mental age of someone several years younger, but he talks clearly of the day to day life in jail. The only foreigner in a dorm of 1000, he survives by teaching his fellow inmates English. He got 99 years for smuggling 3000 Ecstasy pills into the country where few can afford them; he won’t explain why. Connell is nervous as the new boy; his last words to camera are “even David Beckham couldn’t get me out of here…”.

Lifer Andrew Hawkes is a complete mystery – a long-term veteran prisoner who has somehow fallen through the cracks. Hawkes speaks freely of his foolish decision to smuggle heroin after an offer from a stranger in an Amsterdam bar. Hawkes gives us a tour – pointing out the death row prisoners shuffling past. Each group forms their own society in the jail. The jail’s ‘Katoeys’ or lady boys share quarters – one smuggled drugs to pay for a breast augmentation, now she works for the prison TV station as makeup artist and waits for a royal pardon so she can finish her operations and become a real woman.

In hospital a man dying of AIDS lays shaking on his bed as the doctor explains how the prison is struggling to cope with the new prisoners and the overcrowding. Thai prisoner Amporn is waiting to be killed; his voice shakes as he explains how he’ll be given only 2 hours notice before he dies. The executioner takes on a tour of the execution room; he shows us the new technique of injections – inside it’s still splattered with the blood of those killed by a bullet, the bodies taken next door to a tiny Buddhist temple for a final blessing. The monk who guards the urns of the unclaimed explains it’s better to die by execution as you can prepare for the afterlife.

IMDB (7.2)

Bang Kwang Central Prison @ Wikipedia