Champion (2002)


Champion: “I will fight until the end…”

Words: Desmond Childs

This was a nice change of pace. Bio pics usually ride the bottom of my queue if they make it at all, because of the limited amount of breathing room. Well, let me take that back, because you can easily add and subtract quite a bit to a biopic to freshen it up. These days the trend leans more toward the presentation of such biopics; with the information mostly accurate and the production value having been spruced up to raise the intrigue.

Directed By:

Kwak Kyung-taek


The south Korean director, Kyung-taek Kwak made his first feature in 1997 (3pm Bathhouse Paradise), but was not truly commended for his work until his feature Friend. The movie earned him several honors, including a Holden Award for the script at the Torino Film Festival. Champion also recieved an award at the Philadelphia Film Festival. With a larger budget, Mr.Kwak’s feature, Typhoon (2005) did not make enough of a return at the box office. Since then, he’s produced 2 projects but hasn’t been as active since 2008.

Synopsis and Analysis: “The sweet science gets a much needed rule review”

On the surface, Champion is nothing more than the story of Rocky the boxer transmogrified into a young asian lad. Duk Koo Kim grows up living a rough life. He gets into boxing rather early and has some success leading up to the fateful match against Boom Boom Manchini. The outcome of their match affected the sport of boxing in a very impactful way. Ultimately, I was numb to the feelings this film wanted me to have for the characters on screen. For the running time, I still never really got to know the lead character very well outside of his passion for boxing. Apparently the sport of boxing experienced somewhat of a boom during the late 70s and early 80s, so Duk Koo Kim’s particular rise through the ranks made him a frontrunner. At least in his country. Outside of Korea, he wasn’t as well known, even with the amateur record he held. Regardless, all that information is what I get instead of getting to see longer scenes of Duk Koo Kim’s boxing matches. In short, this had to be the least violent boxing movie I’d seen in recent memory. The sub-sub-sub plot involving the boxer’s love life felt so tacked on, with most of the screen time being reserved for training montages and Duk Koo Kim’s mentor spouting generic self-help quotes. The end result of the film, which prays the audience has found some aspect of the film to invest in emotionally; tries to wringe that bit of emotion out; and doesn’t quite cut it for me. I said this film was a nice change of pace, but it’s definietly a speed I can live without on most movie nights. Sorry.


Champion is on Netflix’s instant watch feature. For how long, I don’t know. Check out the trailer below:

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