Cinema Review: Champs | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 23rd, 2021  


Studio: Amplify
Directed by Bert Marcus

Mar 13, 2015 Web Exclusive
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Champs turns its lens on the world of boxing by showcasing three of the sport’s biggest names: Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, and Bernard Hopkins. Their life storylines share a few similar threads: born to poor parents in impoverished households, they get into the violent sport as a means of escape from the violence in their neighborhoods. They shoot to the top of their game, and relish in their money and international fame. As age creeps up on them and their careers begin to wind down, they’re left with scary health diagnoses and in dire financial straits, with little means of readjusting to a world where they’re no longer paid for taking and throwing punches.

For those with a passing knowledge of boxing, little of this is new information. The heavyweights’ downfalls were well-publicized in our popular culture: Tyson’s rape trial and extravagant spending; Holyfield’s bankruptcy after winning hundreds of millions in prize money; the ear-biting incident. Most viewers don’t need a string of medical statistics to guess that decades of taking repetitive blows to the head would have negative, lingering health effects. Champs feels somewhat spread thin as it tries to be both a treatise on boxing’s lack of professional regulation and a biography for all three champions.

Still, the vintage footage of the fighters’ classic bouts is absolutely kinetic; their rags-to-riches-to-rags-again storylines are classically tragic. As a profile of three of the last century’s most dynamic athletes, Champs remains compellingly watchable. It’s just hard not to imagine that it might been better as a shorter 30 For 30 episode focusing on one of the three boxers.

Author rating: 5/10

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Area 52
May 12th 2021

Nice movie.  I appreciate human interest stories.  Their ups and downs. It humanizes our heroes.