The long-awaited Netflix movie about the actual rescue of 12 boys and an adult who were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand will be released on September 22. The documentary Thai Cave Rescue will detail how the Wild Boars soccer team’s afternoon exploration with its 25-year-old coach went horribly wrong when heavy rain locked them within, sparking a large multinational recovery effort that captured the world’s attention.
The six-episode series, which is shot entirely in Thailand, was produced by Netflix in collaboration with filmmakers from Thailand and beyond after the streaming service and SK Global Entertainment jointly acquired the rights to the story back in 2019. Through the eyes of the youngsters at the core of the rescue, the drama is revealed.
The limited series is produced by Michael Russell Gunn (Billions, Designated Survivor), Dana Ledoux Miller (Designated Survivor, Narcos), and Baz Poonpiriya (One for the Road, Bad Genius) of Thailand and Kevin Tancharoen (The Brothers Sun, The Book of Boba Fett) of the United States. Along with Jon M. Chu (In the Heights, Crazy Rich Asians), Lance Johnson (Troop Zero, The Equalizer), John Penotti (Crazy Rich Asians), John Logan Pierson (Spenser Confidential, Patriots Day), and Tim Coddington (Mulan, Crazy Rich Asians), they are all executive producers for the movie Electric Somewhere.
Papangkorn “Beam” Lerkchaleampote plays Coach Eak, Thaneth “Ek” Warakulnukroh portrays Chiang Rai Governor Narongsak Osottanakorn, and Urassaya “Yaya” Sperbund and Manatsanun “Donut” Phanlerdwongsakul play Kelly and Pim, respectively. These characters are fictitious representations of the hydraulic engineers and park range Saman “Ja Sam” Gunan, a former Navy SEAL diver, is played by Supakorn “Tok” Kitsuwan, while Colonel Bhak Loharjun, an army doctor, is played by Bloom Varin.
The real boys’ houses and Tham Luang, where they were trapped, were used for filming. Twelve young local actors were cast as the boys.
As in the actual mission, Thai Cave Rescue used international actors to portray key participants in this rescue, including Vern Unsworth (Nicholas Bell), John Volanthen (Nicholas Farnell), Rick Stanton (Christopher Stollery), Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris (Rodger Corser), and Dr. Craig Challen (Damon Herriman).
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Thai Cave Rescue, which centres on the perspectives of the 12 Wild Boars, Coach Eak, and heroes like Saman ‘Ja Sam’ Gunan, whose lives outside of the operation remain largely outside of the public eye, is the first chance for audiences worldwide to see the Tham Luang story in a new and more emotional light, according to Poonpiriya.
“As a Thai American, I feel so extraordinarily lucky to assist portray this tale through the eyes and soul of the Thai people,” continued Tancharoen. I wished to apply my knowledge of writing epic superhero tales to the actual world. One where the sole superpowers are the tenacity of the human spirit and what we can do when we work together, and where real-life superheroes collaborated for a common cause regardless of where they were from.
Thirteen Lives, a movie about Thai cave rescue, will be released in theatres on Friday (July 29). Todd McCarthy’s review can be found here. The story was also told in the independent film The Cave in 2019 and the Nat Geo documentary The Rescue last year.