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From Coconuts Bangkok

Reenter the cave again and again with two more rescue saga adaptations

A promotional still for ‘Thai Cave Rescue’. Photo: Netflix

A promotional still for ‘Thai Cave Rescue’. Photo: Netflix

The Ron Howard-directed Thirteen Lives premieres today – but not in Thailand – two days after Netflix pinned a September release date on Thai Cave Rescue, a six-episode limited series about the 2018 ordeal to free the boys and their coach from a flooded cave in northernmost Thailand.

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen (Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Nattawut “Baz” Poonpiriya (Bad Genius, One For the Road), the Netflix dramatization will portray the incident with more emotional heft, focusing on the points of view of the 12 boys and their coach, as well as the volunteers. When it was first announced in 2019, Crazy Rich Asians director John M. Chu’s name was attached to it

Billed as “the most authentic and expansive retelling yet,” it was filmed in Thailand and is the only project officially sanctioned by the government agency established to control access to those involved. Scenes were shot at the boys’ homes as well as the cave site.

It will feature a mostly Thai cast led by Papangkorn “Beam” Lerkchaleampote as football coach Eak, and Thaneth “Ek” Warakulnukroh as Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osottanakorn. It stars Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund and Manatsanun “Donut” Phanlerdwongsakul as Kelly and Pim, who represent real-world hydraulic engineers and park rangers.

That it won government support suggests that audiences should expect a noncritical examination of events, given the complaints from Narongsak and other officials over the depiction in the first cinematic treatment of the crisis, 2019’s The Cave.

Thirteen Lives, on the other hand, was filmed in Australia, and therefore avoided any creative conflict with the government-created 13 Tham Luang Co. Ltd.

The film’s star-studded cast includes Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, and Tom Bateman. Mortensen, Farrell, and Edgerton play cave divers Richard Stanton, John Volanthen, and Richard Harris, respectively. 

Thirteen Lives will be released Aug. 5 on Amazon Prime, the same day as The Cave is released after a three-year pandemic delay in North America by Lionsgate as Cave Rescue. 

Thai Cave Rescue premieres Sept. 22 on Netflix.

In late June, the boys visited Tham Luang to make alms and pay respects to their rescuers on the fourth-anniversary of their world-gripping ordeal.

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I just watched Thirteen Lives (the Ron Howard film on Amazon Prime). It was better than I was expecting and gives a lot of credit to the many local volunteers, but focuses squarely on the rescue divers, which is fair enough I suppose. They had to build some quite elaborate sets, that's for sure.

I haven't had a chance to see The Rescue yet because it's on Disney+ and I don't have a subscription to that one. But I feel like as the definitive documentary it's probably better.

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