Klitschko Sebastian Dehnhardt

Klitschko Sebastian Dehnhardt
There's something inherently cinematic about boxing, from the focus on individual struggle, which opens up character study, to the kinetic force of the sport, promoting an edge-of-your-seat quality, threatening to burst into sudden violence. Not to mention that boxing is inherently well lit. Klitschko is a strong, well-crafted, new documentary from German director Sebastian Dehnhardt, a prolific helmer of television documentaries now gunning for broader audiences, expanding his vision to focus on the near-unbeatable Russian-born boxing brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, who have been dominating the world of heavyweight boxing since the mid-'90s. Vitali boasts a record of 44-2, while the younger Wladimir stands at 56-3. The film is largely a biographical documentary, tracing the boys' heritage, interspersed with technically excellent fight footage. The Klitschko saga runs concurrent to recent Russian history, with the boys growing up in the waning days of communism in a strict household under the tutelage of their military father, yet coming of age in the era of glasnost and perestroika, benefiting from relaxed rules governing martial arts. The Klitschkos begin their dominance in kickboxing, gradually advancing to professional boxing. With a bevy of candid interviews, Dehnhardt has done an excellent job sketching their story and finding out what makes them tick, as well as examining the sport's greatest paradox. Simply put, worrying about the risk of injury is something every athlete must attend to, but it's also a detriment to success in the sport. Boxing's safety rules are stringent enough to keep fighter safety in mind, but ultimately it's two men hitting each other with their fists. Klitschko is not shy about revealing the hazards of this often-brutal sport. Interestingly, the film makes plot points out of their great defeats rather than the victories, using their flaws as a narrative springboard to examine how they moved forward as athletes. Most importantly, Klitschko is not simply a reiteration of events passed, trumpeting the brothers' great skill, rather delving into the more technical aspects of why they have been so dominant and what differentiates the two. This crucial component, often missing in otherwise well made sports docs, puts Klitschko an uppercut above. There are no extras on the DVD. (Mongrel Media)