Manny's Laid off Reviews Presents - HBO Documentary Thrilla in Manila
All right, there's probably a small amount of you that are sports fans, and maybe an even smaller amount of you that are boxing fans, but for those few that love sports documentaries, the recent HBO Documentary "Thrilla in Manila" is a must see.
Synopsis: This story is centered around the 1975 fight dubbed the "Thrilla in Manila". It was the final part to the greatest fight trilogy in combat sports (not just limited to boxing). This is the rubber match between sports idol Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Frazier having won the first match and Ali winning the second with both fights going the distance. Now that Ali is the reigning champion after having defeated boxing phenom George Foreman (Yes, he didn't just make grills). Can Joe Frazier battle through all the obstacles and dethrone Ali?
What separates this film from others like "When we Were Kings" is that this film is told from Joe Frazier's perspective, not Ali's. One would assume that since Ali is not the principal subject, that this documentary would be not be as interesting, but it proves otherwise. This documentary gives you the entire back story of Ali and Frazier, from the time they were both friends to the bitter blood feud that would follow. Its shows the struggle that Frazier had to endure thanks to Ali such as the racial politics of the seventies. Its paints Ali as Frazier's antagonists and gives a some insight into both their characters. It is the telling of the "underdog" story. Before there was the fictional Rocky, there was the real Joe Frazier.
Even though this film is titled "Thrilla in Manila", its covers the first two fights as well. So even if your not familiar with the subject, the film does a great job of informing you.This docuementary runs about an hour and half and is filled with interviews from boxing aficionados as well as fight clips. If you like docuementaries on random subjects, this is well worth your time.
Movie Connection: For those who have seen Rocky or the parodies of the training montage, you may not know but this was Joe Frazier's Training Routine. When Joe Frazier moved to Philadelphia in 1958 he worked in a slaughterhouse while simultaneously training in boxing. There he would practice his body work by hitting hanging slabs of meat. The iconic jog onto the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was part of Frazier's morning workout. Frazier was given a walk on part for the movie Rocky, and there he shared some of his training routine which ended up in the film.Unfortunately Joe was never given credit for any consulting, just the walk on part. By Frazier's accounts
"But he never paid me for none of my past. I only got paid for a walk-on part. Rocky is a sad story for me."
So the next time you watch Rocky, remember its not just an allegory for Muhammad Ali Versus Chuck Wepner. You are watching part of Joe Frazier's life. Lets give the man his due.
As a Final Thought, I really don't think HBO receives enough credit for its amazing documentary films (Excuse me as HBO hands me my check...). Seriously though, there are plenty I would recommend to you now on DVD Including Joe Louis: An American Hero Betrayed, Murder on a Sunday Morning, 4 Little Girls and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Put them on your netflix que if you have some room (And here comes my Netflix check).
Now someone from LEOG can yell "NO MORE SPORTS!!!"