Tribeca 2011 Review: KLITSCHKO
Writer/Director: Sebastian Dehnhardt
Cast: Vitali Klitschko,Wladimir Klitschko
Arguably the last fighters to create any excitement in the world of heavyweight boxing before the mat-rolling anarchy of the UFC took over, Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko are the first brothers in the sport to ever hold world titles at the same time. They’re also incredibly good at chess. Ukranian-born and raised in a military family, the two brothers were obsessed with the art of fighting at an early age. Revealing interviews with their family and their trainers help give a good sense of how both men were crafted into two of the most feared fighters on the planet.
Interviews with the opponents they have faced in the past hit that point home even harder, and provide the basis for both fighters' legitimate right to call themselves two of the best heavyweight fighters of all time. Intense studies of how each brother approaches life on the mat are shown, but those who have followed the careers of each brother will probably wait patiently until the lives of the Klitschkos finally lead up to one particular moment in fight history. In 2003, heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis’ opponent Kirk Johnson dropped out at the last minute, and suddenly the WBC’s number one contender, Vitali, stepped up to take on the champ.
As an aside, I watched that fight live, and it remains one of the most explosive moments I’ve ever witnessed in sports. The film frames the film around this fight, and does so brilliantly. Although all of KLITSCHKO is a treat to watch, this is the moment where it truly takes off.
But like previous documentaries on the sport, such as the award-winning WHEN WE WERE KINGS, the boxer himself has to be an interesting subject - not just the fights he or she was a part of. With Ali, the man was a force of nature and a true icon; with the Klitschkos, revealing who they are is almost more interesting because of their background, their spirit, and most importantly their unequaled intelligence and intellectualism (both Vitali and Wladimir have PhDs and speak four languages). They also study the world of boxing and martial arts with razor attentiveness.
Director Sebastian Dehnhardt’s execution and his inclusion of fantastic archival footage make KLITSCHKO absolutely thrilling at times, and serves as as reminder as to why boxing is still considered by some to be the most exciting sport in the world.
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