Ei Phouthang Strikes Back in ‘Three Aces’

Kickboxer Ei Phouthang’s second feature film opened once again to large crowds and rave audience reviews, although some filmgoers Sunday questioned when they would be able to see the pugilist’s famous fighting moves in the ring instead of the theater.

“Three Aces,” a drama from Ang­kor Wat Productions, starring actors from several generations of Cambodian cinema, opened Thursday at the Lux Thea­ter.

His success at the box office has ensured him popular and fi­nancial support, Ei Phou­thang said Sunday, despite a disastrous showing against Australian kickboxer Timure Dell in a May 6 match at Phnom Phen’s Olympic Stadium, and his subsequent se­ven-month suspension from the sport.

“I found a lot of problems with mo­ney when I was suspended from fighting, but I now can earn some money through acting  in mo­vies with my kickboxing skills,” he said.

Like Ei Phouthang’s debut film “Lightning Kick Bodyguard,” which drew 2,000 patrons per showing during the peak of its run at the Lux, “Three Aces” has proved popular with viewers, said Sem Sovanndeth, general director of Lux. The theater has been packed at each of the movie’s four daily screenings, he said.

“His performance is improving,” Sem Sovanndeth said of Ei Phouthang’s acting skills.

In “Three Aces,” Ei Phou­thang plays a kickboxer called  Nara whose fa­ther, also a kickbo­xer, falls ill. To pay for his fa­ther’s des­per­ately need­ed oper­­­a­tion, Nara fights for mo­­­ney, while his sister sells her vir­ginity.

“The story features the reality and gratitude of Cam­bodian children who dare to do everything for a parent’s survi­val,” said Sam­kol Sotheavy, who wrote the script.

In a case of art imitating life, in one scene Nara is offered money to throw a fight, but declines.

The character’s actions re­deemed Ei Phou­thang from sus­pic­ions that he threw the May fight, fans said Sun­day.

“He already shows in movies that he would not sell his ideals or the honor of the country in ex­­­change for mo­­ney, though he needs funds,” said Pao Davuth, 27. “He should go back to fighting and only take his free time for acting in films.”

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