Monday, December 9, 2013

The Good Son: TV At Its Best

Three decades ago boxer Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini killed his opponent in the ring.
He hasn't forgotten that stunning moment, an accident to be sure, but something that also ripped apart his life forever.
And now it's all back to haunt him in a must-see documentary The Good Son: The Life Of Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.
You can catch it on Super Channel Tuesday December 10 at  9 p.m.
In 1982 Macini was fighting South Korean Duk-koo Kim and as the existing footage demonstrates this was a knock-'em-out affair for the World Lightweight title with both opponents blooded and bowed after 14 rounds of sheer brutality.
This new film based on Mark Kriegel's book published last year captures all the emotions of that night as right at the end Kim slumps into unconsciousness --a sudden hematoma of the brain and he was near death until the plug was pulled leaving behind a grieving widow and an unborn son.
This biography of Mancini goes over everything before and after that fateful night.
One of the stars surely is Ian Kerr's atmospheric cinematography which evokes its era so poignantly and is beautifully complimented by Schaun Tozer's musical score (Jesse James Miller directed it ).
The first hour has a rollicking, raucous quality as it bounds all over Mancin's boyhood in blue collar Younghstown, Ohio. We see the deep bond with the father who also was a fighter but he gave it up for duty in World War II.
The son spurned college football scholarships because he wanted to avenge his father's short career and simply become the champion his dad had never been.
Mancini himself guides us through these highs and lows right back to the house where he was born and on to the other houses in the burb where he'd hang out.
And others weight in on his greatness, too, including actors Ed O'Neill and Mickey Rourke.
Then the narrative shifts drastically to the saga of Korean Kim who grew up in the starkest poverty, using his fists to get ahead, finally marrying the prettiest girl around and then being within one fight of being named World Lightweight boxing champeen.
It never happened. A life was destroyed that fateful night, another man's reputation was in tatters. Mancini continued to box for awhile but nothing in his life could ever be the same.
What emerges is a sort of modern Rocky --only this story is all truth and revelations.
The closing of Youngstown's mills meant the struggling city needed a real hero and Mancini fit the bill perfectly.
The real fight that killed Kim is hard to watch --Mancini plummets him with punches to the head. Death seemed inevitable.
And the final scenes while emotional are necessary. Mrs. Kim and son visit the Mancini family. Both sides need answers.
But there are no blinding revelations. Both sides continue  to suffer. Mancini experienced dizzying celebrity, then came the backlash that even affect his children.
Even today with this film he is seeking forgiveness.  The Kims seek memories of a young husband and father they barely knew.
MY RATING: ***1/2.

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