Friday, October 21, 2011

Sebastian Dehnhardt's KLITSCHKO focuses on a pair of boxing "greats" who fascinate

Just so you know, TrustMovies doesn't consider boxing a sport at all. More like gladiatorial combat in which the antagonists beat each other to pulp for the edification of blood-thirsty masses. He understands the popularity of it, however, just as he does the old-time public executions, tossing-the-Christians-to-the-lions, and our eventual televised and/or cable-ready return to all this. That said, TM was held in rapt attention by the new boxing documentary KLITSCHKO, named after two brothers -- Vitali and Wladimir -- who hail from the Ukraine but seem to have made Germany their second and more permanent home. (They still hold some affection for their native land, however: Vitali has his own political party and has run for Mayor of Kiev in the Ukraine.)

It helps, of course, that these two guys are among sports' most gorgeous specimens: handsome (but not pretty) faces sit atop tall, lean-but-muscular bodies that seem made to hand out (and withstand) a good bruising. Documentary director Sebastian Dehnhardt, shown at right, seems every bit as taken with the pair as I was (and you will be), and if he tells their story as a tad too much hagiography, you will admit, I think, that there's an awful lot to be impressed with. Saints they ain't, yet you come away from the film feeling a real fondness for the pair.

We learn of their early history (they're shown above, as kids -- Vitali is center left, Wladimir at right -- with mom and dad), and later when events such as Chernobyl affect their lives and their father's health. That's mom today (below), full of life and energy; dad was a little weaker, though still vital and kicking for quite some time (he died this past summer, after the film was completed).

We learn how the two came to the fight game, how they train, and about their differing styles. Older brother Vitali (shown above, fighting Kevin Johnson in 2009) simply comes out punching every which way to victory. Wladimir (shown below), we are told, treats the ring more like a game of chess.

We hear views about the pair from their trainer (above) and manager (below), and from other fighters, too -- mostly good things, but not always (this helps detract from the hagiography).
If the Klitschkos have not quite ascended to the throne of America's boxing royalty, it may be, we learn from at least one other fighter, because there are two of them. This is perceived as somehow unfair. Except at the very beginning of their career, the brothers never fought in place of each other, but still, the whole idea may seem a little too Doppelgänger for us everyday Americans.

To know who's really the best, insists one other fighter, the brothers must fight each other. (That's the pair sparing, above.) Will they? Do they? When you see the film, you'll find this out, along with a lot of other interesting stuff -- like Don King, the pianist, and why our boys didn't sign with him;
who this lovely lady is (above), whom I wish we had seen a little more of and heard a little more from; and which gorgeous Klitsch is shown below (I'm not telling).
Klitschko, running 110 minutes (yes, for this kind of documentary, it's maybe a tad too long), from Corinth Releasing, opens today in New York City at the AMC Empire 25 and the Cinema Village and in the Los Angeles area at Laemmle TheatresSunset 5 Encino Town Center Five, with additional weekend showings at the Monica 4-PlexPasadena Playhouse 7 and the Claremont Five.

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