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

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

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.