Films: Klitschko

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Germany, 2011, 117 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Biographical, Documentary, Sports
Programs: Documentary Films, Reel Social Club
Language: English, Russian, German English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Sebastian Dehnhardt
Producer: Leopold Hoesch
Editor: Lars Roland
Cinematographer: Johannes Imdahl
Principal Cast: 

Muhammad Ali was faster—and much, much prettier. Rocky Balboasold a lot more popcorn. But for sheer biographical fascination in the heavyweight division, it's hard to equal the Klitschkos, and German documentarian Sebastian Dehnhardt is up to the task of trading punches (of the philosophical sort) with the Ukraine-born brothers. Even boxing prohibitionists can enjoy their richly nuanced tale: after all, when they're not pounding on opponents, Vitali and Wladimir play chess. They read books. Vitali was even elected to the Ukrainian parliament on an anti-corruption platform.

Raised poor in the orbit of Chernobyl's toxic fallout near Kiev, these big-boned sons of a Soviet Air Force officer may be the most unlikely heavyweight champs in history. Dehnhardt traces the rise of Vitali, the born fighter, and his younger brother, the well-studied one, through the ranks in the 1990s. Delight lies in the details: Vitali spurns Don King's advances when the devious promoter tries to fake him out by “playing” a Russian classic on a player piano; Wladimir admits, with a touch of guilt, how he “tasted blood” in his first pro fight; together the pair describe their special bond (“our secret weapon—an opponent is actually fighting two people”), while their feisty mother, Nadeshda, scores as the film's funniest talking head.

Never fully embraced by the U.S. boxing establishment, the Brothers K fought every contender and—like the Williams sisters of tennis fame—wore all the crowns. “They beat everyone of their era,” says TV fight analyst Larry Merchant. “They had power and finesse. Something else too—great intelligence. There's nothing like them.”

Sponsored by Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany

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