Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Released March 13th, 2015
1 hr 25 mins
Not Rated


Director: Bert Marcus
Writer: Bert Marcus

Evander Holyfield as Himself
Bernard Hopkins as Himself
Mike Tyson as Himself
Larry 'Ratso' Sloman as Himself
Dalton Conley as Himself
Naazim Richardson as Himself
John Pfaff as Himself
50 Cent as Himself (as Curtis Jackson)
Mary J. Blige as Herself
Lou DiBella as Himself
George Willis as Himself
Al Bernstein as Himself
Francisco Aguilar as Himself
Mark Wahlberg as Himself
Spike Lee as Himself
David J. Leonard as Himself
Micky Ward as Himself
Craig 'Boogie' Jones as Himself
Ron Howard as Himself
Denzel Washington as Himself
Maureen Schafer as Herself
Tyler Felix as Young Mike Tyson
K.J. Powell as Young Bernard Hopkins (as KJ Powell)
Chris Hall as Teen Evander Holyfield
Isaac Alisma as Teen Bernard Hopkins
Dre Sawyer as Mike Tyson's Mother
Florence Avognon as Evander Holyfield's Mother
Don Blocker as Evander Holyfield's Trainer
Jordan Wilson as White Boys & Girls Club Boxer
Deloris Heard as Bernard Hopkins' Mother

Review by Stephen M.

Champs is an interesting look into three of the greatest boxing champs during the 1990s and 2000s.  Those individuals being Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Bernard Hopkins.  The documentary starts from their meager and often troubled beginnings to their entry into boxing and their rise and fall from boxing.  With reenactments, old footage, and interviews, we get a rarely seen side of boxing and what it takes to be a champ.

What I love about the film is the stories that the filmmaker is able to put together.  A lot of it can be seen as common information, but that is paired with behind the scenes footage and insight that adds to the legacy and legend of these three mighty boxers.  All three individuals of which the documentary is about are hands on and fairly open in the documentary which is a must.  From Bernard Hopkins's stint in prison to Mike Tyson's rape charges and imprisonment to Holyfield's meager beginnings we see them not only at their best but at their worst too.  I especially enjoyed the segment about Holyfield's Olympic failure due to a controversial decision, and Tyson's loss in failing to make the Olympic team.

While the focus is on the three former champs, the documentary often touches about the overall problems with boxing as it is today.  For example, the lack of a minimum wage or health care for the low ranking boxers that their income pales in comparison to minor league baseball players and bench players for the NBA and NFL.  The film of course could have filled an entire hour discussing this matter but the focus is on the three greats.  They do talk about how they are still involved in boxing now trying to educate the next generation of boxers on the pitfalls and snakes of the business side of the game.  The only other flaw with the film as slight as it is, is the inclusion of actors and actresses as part of the interviews.  For example, someone like Mark Wahlberg who has played a boxer or Mary J. Blige who is noted as a "boxing enthusiast."  Adding them simply for the "star" power is a good tactic but not very necessary.

I would highly recommend the film especially if you are a fan of boxing.  The film will make you yearn for the yesteryears when Heavyweights ruled the planet and larger than life personalities like Bernard Hopkins and Mike Tyson was on the television screen ever week making headlines.  The documentary walks the fine line in being both entertaining and informative.  Already in theaters, catch it while you still can.


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