‘Champion’: Film Review

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A former arm-wrestling champion returns to his native Korea and discovers a household he by no means knew he had in Kim Yong-wan’s sports-themed dramedy.

If the 1987 Sylvester Stallone automobile Over the Prime proved nothing else (and it actually did not), it is that arm wrestling isn’t probably the most cinematic of sports activities. However that hasn’t deterred Korean filmmaker Kim Yong-wan, who traverses comparable territory to way more satisfying impact in his starring automobile for Ma Dong-seok (billed right here as Don Lee). The massively proportioned star of Prepare to Busan delivers such a successful efficiency within the sentimental sports activities dramedy Champion that it makes it straightforward to miss the movie’s generic points, that are legion.

Lee performs Mark, a Korean former arm-wrestling champion raised in the USA now supporting himself as a bouncer in bars and safety guard in big-box shops. Lonely and unfulfilled, he takes up the provide of his previous buddy Jin-ki (Kwon Yul) to return to his native nation and resume his sports activities profession. To sweeten the pot, Jin-ki guarantees to supply the deal with of Mark’s long-lost mom who gave him up for adoption.

Upon arriving in Korea, Mark heads to the deal with solely to find that his mom died years earlier. However he does come into contact with a household he by no means knew he had, particularly a widowed half-sister (Han Ye-ri) and her lovely younger son and daughter (Okay Ye-rin, Choi Seung-hoon). The little woman is especially impressed by her newfound uncle’s dimension. “So huge, he is like a beast!” she marvels to her sibling.

You may just about guess the remainder of the story from right here. Mark finds himself bonding together with his sister and her kids, his impassivity slowly worn away by his heretofore untapped emotions of nurturing. In the meantime, he beats quite a lot of opponents within the ring (or no matter you name the place arm wrestlers wrestle) however runs afoul of some shady gamblers who stress him to throw an upcoming champion match.

To say that the storyline is cliched is giving it extra credit score than it deserves. However the movie manages to succeed anyway, thanks largely to the quiet charisma and likeability of its bodily imposing main man who manages to carry his personal even enjoying reverse the scene-stealing tykes. By some means capable of come throughout as each fiercely intimidating and deeply delicate, Lee additionally shows a sly comedian contact together with his constant underplaying. He additionally enjoys good chemistry together with his feminine co-star, particularly when their characters’ relationship takes a shocking flip.

The arm-wrestling sequences, then again, show as uncompelling right here as they have been within the Stallone film, which Champion has the great humor to acknowledge onscreen as a chief affect on its principal character. It is too unhealthy that Hollywood efforts haven’t got comparable braveness in acknowledging their very own apparent inspirations.

Distributor: Properly Go USA Leisure
Solid: Don Lee (Ma Dong-seok), Kwon Yul, Han Ye-ri
Director/screenwriter: Kim Yong-wan
Producer: Hong Dong-whan

108 min.

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