Champion (2002)

"OK"

Champion (2002) Review


Watch enough movies, and you'll learn that every country has its own Rocky. The Korean version is called, prosaically enough, Champion, and it chronicles the true story of Korean boxing phenom Deuk-gu Kim (Oh-sung Yoo), a lightweight-class brawler with a heart of gold who fought his way to the top, only to die after sustaining head injuries in a fight against Ray "Boom-Boom" Mancini in 1982.

Because the film is a celebration of a true-life national hero, it's forced to walk a very narrow and cliché-ridden narrative path. We see Kim's poverty-stricken childhood, his escape to the big city where he must do things like sell his blood in order to scrape by, and his violent encounter with a gangster that leads him to seek out a gym where he can learn to box and defend himself.

At the gym we find, as expected, the crusty old coach who beats those who lose a boxing match with a baseball bat and then beats the winners as well so they'll remember what it feels like to lose. Kim also picks up a good-natured best buddy, whom, as such films demand, he briefly abandons when his success starts to take him places.

Throughout the movie we get the requisite training montages, jump rope sequences, bloody slow-motion punches, and long moments when Kim stares at himself in the mirror, wonders what life is all about, and then writes slogans to himself that he pastes on the bedroom wall. Kim also finds a wife (Min-seo Chae), whose father justifiably disapproves of him, at least until he starts raking in the dough, at which point his son-in-law improves in his eyes.

Clearly Kim sees boxing as his salvation, and he is fond of extolling its virtues when he meets the press, gives speeches, or visits his hometown. What's strange is his insistence the true beauty of boxing is found in its inherent "fairness," a struggle between two men, one of whom is stronger. It's a good thing Kim didn't spend too much time hanging around the American boxing scene or he might have come to a different conclusion regarding the purity of the sport. In fact, his tragic death is brought about by a long list of unfair circumstances, most of which writer/director K.T. Kwak chooses to gloss over.

Oh-seong Yu is a watchable lead, and some of the boxing action in Champion is raw and exciting, but this familiar arc of triumph and tragedy won't stir audiences, except perhaps for Koreans, who hold their national hero in very high regard.

He'll keep on fighting, 'til the end.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Kyung-Taek Kwak

Producer: Weon-jang Jo

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.