Klitschko – Movie Review

Great action footage combined with learned interviews. The steely-eyed Klitschkos contrast with the hype and flamboyance of the profession fight scene with amazing impact.

Award winning documentary filmmaker Sebastian Dehnhardt was in the eye of the hurricane making this rocking and rolling fight flick. The film stars the boxing wunderkind Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, two brothers with fighting in their genes. The problem is that they often fight each other with the same intensity as they fight their opponents.

These two human beings are as close to perfect fighting machines as could be imagined. They are almost inhuman in their dedication, their piercing stares, their disciplined movements, chiseled features and indomitable spirit. When they are human it shows in their love for their family and, yes, even each other.

The two brothers have managed to capitalize on incredible natural talents hardened to a cold steel temper by their socialist upbringing in no-nonsense Ukraine. The behavior that stands out about these two fighters is the wolf-like intensity of the gears turning behind those piercing eyes. One looks tells the whole story; they know what they have and they know they can figure out a way to win.

If you think you know about the dedicated sacrifice that makes up 98% of professional boxing, watch this film and learn some more. There is no such thing as a born fist fighter. A professional boxer learns to live with pain every day of his life and Dehnhardt’s expert documentary direction takes the viewer into the back rooms of the Klitschkos’ lives.

This is where they starve, heave for oxygen, recover from surgery, discuss whether or not their careers or over and try to live at least parts of a normal life.

Vitali Klitschko was born in 1971 in Kirgizstan. Twenty-five years later he won his first WBO title with a knockout against Englishman Herbie Hyde. In 2004 he won the WBC title but the effects of that bout and previous hammerings proved too much. He formerly resigned from boxing under the strongest medical advice imaginable. To the amazement of the sports world he returned to the ring in 2008 and regained the WBC title. To return to the ring after four years and win one of the most coveted championships in sports is almost unheard of.

However, he topped that off by being one of only four fighters in the history of the sport to win three world championship-boxing titles. The other three, Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis are household names even amongst those who never watch boxing.

Wladimir was born in 1976 and won his first championship twenty years later as the gold medal winner in the super heavyweight division in the Olympic Games in Atlanta. He went on to win world titles in 2000 and 2006.

With his most recent victory over David Haye in July, 2011, he became the first fighter to hold world championship titles of the IBF, WBO, WBA and IBO. In combination with Vitali’s WBC championship in 2004, the brothers are the first in history to hold all five world championship titles at the same time.

The timing for this film could not have been better. It summarizes two lives that separately are astounding and in combination provide a resonating drumbeat of excitement, danger and courage that is unmatched on the sporting scene. Director Dehnhardt ground out the homework on this film in the same professional manner that marked his subjects.

He rounded up past foes of the brothers as well as a section of the other greatest boxers alive to comment on the style and bearing of the Klitschkos. This wealth of interviews and archival footage includes Lamon Brewster, Chris Byrd and Lennox Lewis as well as the godfather and chief demon from hell himself, the legendary Don King. These interviews, alone are worth the price of admission for fight buffs.

As it turns out, King wanted to manage the brothers. They investigated and decided to go a different route. There were problems with Mr. Kings, well…., you should watch the film yourself and hear it from the brothers.

It is understood that the action footage is incomparable. The western world has been filming fights since Saturday Night at the Fights in Madison Square Garden in the 50’s and the cinematography in this film is the state of the art. DP Johannes Imdahl is able to take the audience from the claustrophobic, terrifying confiners of the blank-walled dressing room to the glaring lights and life threatening ring, and back again, with style and grace.

Film editing by Lars Edward Roland keeps the pressure on. The tight editing manages to keep the pressure mounting even when the scenes are out of the film.

This fight doc transcends conventional documentary and fictional treatments of the subject. It could be the best one out to date. Although to make that comparison you should also see “When We Were Kings,” the uber-doc of the 1974 championship bout in Zaire between legendary mauler champion George Foreman and mouthy upstart Muhammad Ali. It is the only other documentary that is close.

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Directed and Written by: Sebastian Dehnhardt
Featuring: Lamon Brewster, Chris Byrd and Bernd Bönte 
Release Date: October 21, 2011
MPAA: Not Rated
Running Time: 110 Minutes
Country: Germany
Language: German / Russian / English
Color: Color