November 25, 2007

Champion: The Man Who Wears Gloves

If you've ever seen a championship boxing match, then you know that while the lightweights certainly can't beat the heavyweights, they're nevertheless a hell of a lot scrappier, tougher, even scarier since they haven't got an ounce of fat to cushion any of the furiously thrown blows. Champion, Kwak Kyung-taek's biopic on South Korea's world-class contender Kim Deuk-gu, doesn't tell one fighter's rags to riches story, or traffic in his poetic inarticulacies of rage, though it could have done either given its subject matter. Instead, the flick relates the ascent of a fairly likable, none-too-bright pugilist who seems motivated by cultural imperatives and grounded by the respect that accompanies accomplishments which garner you a big fat wreath and a bloody nose. It's hard to tell whether actor Yu Oh-seong is doing a bad job or a solid one as he represents a man with little depth, not much smarts, and a boy's undeveloped philosophies. There's a lot of blank stares and looks of incomprehension. That might be the brutal truth. Ultimately, he's easy on the eyes and his tightie whities are always spotless. While the actual matches could've gone on much longer, his flashbacks are kept to a minimum. Kindly so.

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