Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Manny (Leon Gast & Ryan Moore, 2014)

The gorgeous looking documentary Manny contains a generous sampling of stunning knockouts by Manny Pacquiao from his Blow by Blow years to his reign as world champion in eight weight classes. Watching those clips on a high definition digital theater screen is worth the price of an admission ticket.

The knockouts are seen from different angles. Some are in slow motion that capture perfectly the power of the punches by Pacquiao. A solid right mashed Miguel Cotto's face like it was a mere pizza dough with a smattering of bloody red catsup. Then, there is the wicked one-punch knockout of Ricky Hatton. That knockout was the most vicious I've seen in a Pacquiao boxing fight until...the gruesome knockout that stunned the whole country in December 2012.

It is heartbreaking seeing Pacquiao slumped face down inside the ring. The bated breaths of Filipino viewers are captured in still shots. A concerned judge (or is that a ringside broadcaster) seems to be praying over the prostrated Filipino boxer. It will take a handful of minutes before Pacquiao regained consciousness.

Juan Manuel Márquez's stoppage of Pacquiao in that December 2012 match is the second consecutive loss of Pacquiao. He lost a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley earlier in 2012.

Those defeats give life to this documentary. The filmmakers were at a loss on how to put into context the legendary status of a future hall of famer. They showed Pacquiao's triumph from poverty. Since then, it was all glory and triumph. His unbeaten run of matches in the 2000s is admirable but lacks conflict needed for engrossing storytelling. He lost an election run in 2007 but it is not bad enough to dent his superman invincibility. There must be a kryptonite out there that will bring Pacquiao to normal human levels.

The documentary cites Jinkee Pacquiao's absence from her husband as the kryptonite that led to his defeat at the hands of Bradley. However,Winnie Monsod identified clearly different things vying for Pacquiao's attention. These include his showbiz rackets, fondness for gambling, affairs with other women, and serving constituents from Sarangani province.

Some critics cite his renewed religiosity as the kryptonite that dampened his killer instinct in the ring. But, Pacquiao has always been religious. It is not something he puts on for the world to see. His mother used to herd them together to pray the rosary over empty stomachs. He is always seen wearing the rosary after big fights.

Whatever felled our boxing hero, he stands tall once again. He turned back the clock to give a masterful boxing performance against Brandon Rios. His triumph was a big boost to the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. If he can rise from severe losses, they can also rise from major setbacks. That ending will suffice for now as we await the next fight of Emmanuel 'Manny' Pacquiao.

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