There’s two words you need to know about this movie to decide whether it’s going to be to your liking or not: Don Lee. Ma Dong-seok, who often goes by “Don Lee” is a staple of many asian films. We last saw him in Fantasia 2017 on Train to Busan. Now he invades the big screen as the lead for Champion.
Champion is directed by Kim Yong-wan. It’s the story of a former arm wrestler, Mark (Don Lee) and his return to the professional leagues with his smooth-talking buddy Jin-ki (Kwon Yul) as his manager. Mark knows Jin-ki is a swindler, but he considers him a brother. Growing up in the US has not being easy for Mark, as he was left by his mother back in Korea. Jin-ki actually gets him his mother’s address in the hope that the reunion will also push him towards staying in Korea.
Mark soon learns his mother has passed and living in her house is a sister whom he’s never met named Soon-Yi (Han Ye-ri) and her two adorable kids. To say that this movie is going to blackmail you emotionally is putting it mildly. Mark will soon care more about the two kids that he has ever done and Soon-Yi, although very awkwardly, accepts him in.
Of course the road for Mark to win his first tournament will not be easy. Between Jin-ki’s negotiations with a notorious load shark, Mark getting acquainted with his new family and of course, a fearsome powerful opponent, he’s got his hands full. Not to mention some family secrets that might tug at Mark’s resolve.
Recommended with a heart warning. This is going to one of those movies that tugs at the heartstrings and will play up everything, including two kids saying the most adorable insults to their new uncle, to make you cry. There’s a bit of a homage to Over The Top – but let’s face it, the entire movie is really the homage. However, it’s mostly up to you if you’re going to let the movie suck you in. But if you do, you’ll have one heck of a time.
That will do for now.