The New York Times: Reverberations of a Fatal Fight
30 Years Later, Reverberations of a Fatal Fight, ‘The Good Son,’ Documentary About Ray Mancini, by Nicole Herrington of The New York Times:
Jesse James Miller’s moving documentary “The Good Son” is like a brisk novel with a bigger-than-life protagonist. Boxing fans already know of Ray Mancini, a k a Boom Boom, former World Boxing Association lightweight champion: His 1982 bout against the South Korean fighter Duk-koo Kim ended with Mr. Kim fatally wounded. He died of a subdural hematoma, leaving behind a pregnant fiancée. But the film, beautifully shot by Ian Kerr (who evokes the era with photographs, yellowed newspaper clips and fight footage), peels back fresh layers that will captivate nonfans too.
Based on Mark Kriegel’s book of the same title (an excerpt was published last year in The New York Times), the documentary — at times veering close to a hagiographic portrait — is also about Mr. Mancini’s hometown, Youngstown, Ohio; the transcending power of father-son bonds; the unwavering determination of two boxers; and, inadvertently, the male fascination with this brutal sport. While Mr. Mancini mesmerizingly guides us to his present, Mr. Kriegel, friends like the actor Ed O’Neill and others advance the story of his past.
It takes too long to arrive at that fateful fight, though, and there’s hardly enough time for a comprehensive accounting of its toll. (How has Mr. Mancini managed to cope and maintain a livelihood all these years?) Mr. Kim remains a sort of mythic figure, and his story (he grew up poor before finding an outlet for his rage in the ring and redemption in love) feels too condensed. The imbalance is most evident during the emotional meeting of Mr. Mancini and Mr. Kim’s adult son, Jiwan. They find closure, and we feel for them, but it also seems forced.