Blu-Ray Review: Champion

Midge Kelly primed for action

Boxing is one sport which punches well above its weight when it comes to popularity and media attention. Indeed, the amount of money to be made, primarily for uneducated young men, has made it a way out of poverty and a viable alternative to a life of crime. These factors have also made big box office in Hollywood, with the likes of Rocky, Raging Bull, The Fighter and Creed all attracting large audiences. This is not a new phenomenon. Back in 1949, Champion caused a stir.

‘Midge’ Kelly (Kirk Douglas) and his brother Connie (Arthur Kennedy) are crossing the country to California with the promise of part ownership of a diner. On the way, Midge takes a boxing match in order to earn some money. Despite being soundly beaten, his spirit and pluck catch the eye of Tommy Haley (Paul Stewart), a trainer and manager. He takes up the offer and with a lot of hard work and effort embarks on a new career.

Champion is a powerful sports drama which delves into the murky world of boxing with eyes wide open. There’s an impressive supporting cast, but much of the success of Mark Robson’s film is down to a full-blooded performance from Douglas. He really throws himself into the role and deservedly received an Academy Award nomination for his efforts. Champion toys with its audience before delivering a knock-out blow.

Special features:

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
  • Optional English SDH Subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentary by professor and film scholar Jason A. Ney
  • Stills Gallery
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Richard Combs; and a piece on boxing in cinema by author / screenwriter S. B. Cave

Champion is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment as part of their Masters of Cinema collection on 6 December.

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