Boxing is probably the most dangerous sport there is. It is an activity in which two individuals establish their dominance through sweaty and bloody competition. Many men (and women) have engaged in the sport and their personal stories often contribute to their punch for punch quest for glory. Not only are they fighting for a title but they are fighting for freedom, liberation from oppression and poor living conditions. The new documentary Champs is an exceptionally well-crafted film that highlights the struggles and the triumphs of boxers. Three of the greatest fighters to ever compete tell their stories and make for one very compelling documentary. It’s not just a film about the sport but a film showcasing the very best in humanity.
Champs shines a light on the rough beginnings of three of boxing’s greats: Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins. All originating from ghettos and low-income families, these three gentlemen started off on bumpy paths. Luckily for them, they found inner strength through boxing. Not only did it become their career but it started out as a way of survival. Fighting in the streets was commonplace for these individuals and in all three cases, fighting took them out of the ghetto and into mansions.
There are many documentaries out there that discuss certain sports in great detail, everything from the rules of the game to the science of the activity itself. Champs is not that type of documentary. Instead of analyzing boxing on a technical level, we get a more human approach. Champs isn’t so much a film about boxing but more of commentary on man’s competitive spirit and his need to overcome obstacles. Boxing just happens to be an outlet for this and a very effective one at that.
The archival video footage of Tyson, Holyfield and Hopkins all paint a vivid picture which is both informative and gripping. We really get a sense of who these men are and where they come from and the results are really rather interesting. Celebrity interviews with Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Mary J. Blige and others, stylized graphics and a hip soundtrack all contribute to the above average quality of Champs. Filmmaker Bert Marcus (How to Make Money Selling Drugs, Teenage Paparazzo) has definitely put together a solid film here. The subject matter is important but it isn’t done in an overbearing way. The editing is tight and puts everything in place exquisitely.
Many documentary films teach something people are sometimes in the dark about. Champs is one such film and audiences are in for a real treat. We really get into the boxer’s head and find out some fascinating tidbits. Tyson, Holyfield and Hopkins have all had shaky pasts but through the power of boxing, they have transcended and achieved greatness. Champs is a powerful look at these three men and their struggles to overcome adversity. Hopefully Bert Marcus will continue making stellar films like this one because he certainly has knack for it and a terrific grasp of his subjects. Whether you’re a fan of boxing or just curious about the psychology of fighters, then Champs is right up your alley. Bottom line, this film is a winner.