in Movies

Review: ‘Manny’ (2015)

manny movie

By Roger Alcantara

Manny is a feature length documentary about the life and career of Manny Pacquiao, arguably the greatest boxer to ever step foot in a ring. Directed by Ryan Moore and Academy Award winner Leon Gast, the film depicts the evolution of the ‘Pac-man,’ who really is on a mission from God to become one of the most legendary sportsman of all-time.

From extreme poverty to being one of the wealthiest boxers around, the film also shows the longing of the human spirit and the endurance of the human heart. Pacquiao is regarded as the underdog in the build-up to his meteoric upcoming bout with undefeated Floyd Mayweather — with the match being billed all over the world as the most anticipated fight in history, so there is no better time than now to watch this film and learn about the Filipino legend. For boxing fans or not, this film is powerful, heart-warming and uplifting.

The film opens with scenes from the Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez match from 2012 where Manny was defeated by knock out for the first time ever. In that match, there were three knockdowns. Manny was knocked down first, but then he retaliated with a knock down of his own. Manny finally lost when he was knocked out.

Now one of the highest paid athletes in the world and winner of 10 world titles across 8 divisions, life hasn’t always been this good for Pacquiao. He was born into extreme poverty in a civil war torn Philippines, a country that was in complete chaos and disarray, and raised in ‘the shadows of war.’ The viewer is guided through Manny’s history with narration from Liam Neeson and Manny himself, speaking in Tagalog but with subtitles. Manny describes how he used to live in a small hut made with leaves from a coconut tree. He and his siblings all had to work to try and put food on the table and they still went some days without any food at all. Manny begged a fisherman for work so that his family could eat, and often went without food himself. At that time Manny could never have foreseen what God’s plan was for him.

The film shows reconstructed clips from the civil war, and Manny retells how he witnessed the army beheading a rebel, which led to his family’s move to the town to live with Manny’s uncle. At this time he had never even seen a car. At age 12 Manny’s uncle started training him to box, and he went out to win local fights to earn the equivalent of about 2 dollars per bout. This wasn’t enough so Manny stowed away on a boat to Manila at the age of 13 to pursue a career in boxing.

From Manny’s arrival in Manila, the film moves quite rapidly through time, with clips from a lot of his early fights. It details how he rose into professional boxing and eventually defeated every opponent available in the Philippines. The viewer is shown how at this time he lacked the flair and finesse of the world’s best, but had a real passion, and a serious ambition to help his family. After running out of people to fight in his home country, Manny moved to LA and found trainer Freddie Roach, who was amazed by Manny’s skill. They instantly clicked and became known as the dynamic duo.

Interviews with his trainer and other sports experts and journalists tell the story of how Manny become the incredible fighter he is today. Within a few weeks of being in America Manny stepped in to the ring with Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, who was one of the best around at the time. The top five boxers in the world had already turned down a fight with Ledwaba but Pac-man fearlessly took him on and won.

Manny then rose 2 weight divisions to fight one of the best boxers ever, Oscar De La Hoya. Everyone thought the match would be a massacre and Filipinos were trying to have the fight banned for fear that Manny would die. The match went ahead though and Manny annihilated De La Hoya and ended his career. In doing so, Manny was made, and people were already saying he was the best fighter in the world.

The film is great in the way as it shows all the dimensions of Manny’s personality. From ferocious fighter to family man to congressman, the film shows it all. Clips of him with his wife and family remind the viewer of why he is doing what he is doing, and scenes of him laughing and joking with friends depict what a lovable character he is. Throughout the whole film the viewer really gains a sense of Manny being on a mission from God. He says himself that he is where he is because of God. When asked if he was going to win a fight, he would say it was up to God to decide. Friends said that when he went into a fight, he didn’t look like a guy going into a fight. He looked happy, full of energy and no fear, with the light of God behind him.

As well as boxing Pacquiao has become a major TV personality doing advertising for massive brands like McDonalds. There are also clips of his film appearances that are a tad strange but amusing.  Mark Wahlberg is one of the interviewees who said he would love to collaborate with Manny in a film sometime. Manny has some singing talent as well, and the viewer is shown a clip of him singing Imagine by John Lennon on the Jimmy Kimmel show in a duet with Will Ferrell. It’s funny and all these scenes allow the viewer to get a feel for Manny’s character as they are shown his tender side.

After making large amounts of money boxing, Manny wanted to give back what God had given to him. He did this by joining politics in the Philippines and gave his province its first ever public hospital. There are scenes of Manny in the Philippines doing political work, and it is nice how the film shows the juxtaposition between these two very different worlds. It shows how he earns the money, and how he gives it back to his nation.

The film also touches on the fact that Mayweather has never fought Pacquiao even though Manny expressed that he would like to do the fight. Some suggested that Mayweather was scared to face Manny. When this film was made, a date hadn’t been set for this match up that is now being dubbed as the fight of the century. That date has been set now.

With the epic fight scenes, the in-depth depiction of Manny’s character and interviews from people very close to the man, this film really gives a well-rounded, thought out account of a legendary boxer and a wonderful man; this film is certainly not one to be missed.