Vitali and Wladimir dominate the sport. The Klitschko brothers are phenomenal athletes and the documentary that bears their name as its title profiles their personalities, strategies and long term careers.
Chronicling the Klitschko Road to Triumph
Their beginnings were humble. They were raised in a stable and very strict household by a military father and a working mother. At an early age, Vitali was put in charge of caring for Wladimir. They moved often, as their dad was stationed in different places. The worst was at Chernobyl, where dad was exposed to radiation that eventually caused him to have cancer.
Because they moved so much, Vitali and Wladimir were subjected to school bullies, and dad taught Vitali to fight back and always win -- a message that obviously stuck.
It Hasn't Been A Smooth JourneyThe film shows the ups and downs of both Vitali's and Wladimir's careers, detailing injuries, explaning career-shaping decisions -- like turning down an offer from Don King because they perceived that "he wasn't an honest guy."
We hear from their trainers that they are very different fighters, that Vitali is made of stone, while Wladimir is made of clay. Boxers they've fought talk about their talent, their strength and speed, expressing amazement that the brothers chose boxing, a relentless and serious sport that is not a game, where real and life threatening injuries occur. Footage of fights with Lennox Lewis, Lamon Brewster and Chris Byrd certainly prove that to be true.Vitali describes their first trip to the USA, where they were overwhelmed by the riches they saw. "We had no money. We just wanted to touch things," he says. "We didn't understand why people needed so many shoes. You only need one pair of shoes. Or maybe two...for sports."
Their mom says she copes with the dangers they face in the ring by going for a walk by herself during their fights and "waiting for the phone call."
Then there are the championships, and Vitali's decision to retire and go into politics, with the goal of ending corruption in Ukrainian governmental circles, while Wladimir pushes on in the ring.
Why Choose The Life of a Fighter?The question of why they fight is raised throughout the film, most noticibly when one of their opponents -- an African American fighter -- comments that they had other options in life. They are well educated (both have PhDs), have a strong family behind them, and had opportunities that most people who enter the ring have not had. Unfortunately, the essential question of why they fight is never asked directly, never called for indirectly, never considered. It is implanted at the film's beginning when voice over narration describes the first viewing of a boxing match and how the sound of the boxing glove smashing into a man's face seemed the essence of brutality, and it lingers after the film is finished.
There's plenty of information about how they got started. A teenage Vitali took up kick boxing, which was then outlawed in the USSR, and won his matches. He was good at fighting, and got better at it as time went on. Finally, he moved to Hamburg to pursue a professional career as a boxer. And the rest is history.
But, even with those details, the question of motivation lingers, and the film doesn't probe for answers. Instead, of delving into the brothers Klitschkos' psyches, the film skims lightly over their surface personalities and circumstances. In doing so, it's thorough. But it's also superficial. If you just want to cheer for the Klitschkos, this will be enough for you. If you want to understand them, you'll need more.
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- Title: Klitschko
- Director: Sebastian Dehnhardt
- Release Date: October 21, 2011
- Running Time: 110 mins.
- Parental Guidance: Advisory for Parental Guidance for content
- Location: Germany, Ukraine, USA, Kazakhstan, Canada, Austria and Switzerland
- Language: English, German and Russian, with English subtitles
- Production Country: USA
- Production Company: Broadview TV
- Distribution Company: Corinth Films