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The Power of One
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The Power of One More at IMDbPro »

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39 out of 46 people found the following review useful:


Author: tinpan-1 from United Kingdom
29 January 2005

This is the best film I have ever seen. I read the book in 1989, which I enjoyed so much. It was emotional, real and I raved about the book to anyone near me. So much so, that my fiancé took me to our local cinema during a festival to see the film in 92. For those that have read the book, all I wanted to know was how were they going to do the chicken scene?

However for those of you that haven't read the book, the chicken scene did not matter. For once a film is so fantastic, that you cease to compare it to the book. I enjoyed this film, in a cinema with fewer than fifteen people in. I laughed and cried and it was so sad that no one had made the effort to come and see this masterpiece.

Years later, when I talk about the film, people say " Oh it's the one about the boxer" but it is so much more. If you think this is a boxing film, think again. It is a film about love, about being different , about perseverance and about not only wanting to make a difference, but doing so. It shows that you may be a small fish, but you can make a difference to the world if only you believe in yourself.

Morgan Freeman is just fantastic in this film. As is Stephen Dorrf. For Morgan, it is on par with Shawshank Redemption and beats performances in anything he had done written by James Patterson. I was so chuffed recently when seeing Enduring Love, with Daniel Craig, I realised he was PK's enemy Jaapie Botha in the film from 13 years ago. I am lucky to have The Power Of One on video and I wait for the day when it is released again on video or DVD and I can purchase it for friends to watch. You cannot watch this film without getting something positive out of it. I have since parted with the chap I first watched the film with, but have married a man born in South Africa who appreciated this film as much as me. I only hope and dream that one day, we together, we will make a difference. If we touch on PK's achievements I will feel I have succeeded.

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39 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

An american ending to an african story

Author: Maik from Frankfurt, Germany
5 February 1999

It's been a while since I have seen the movie for the first time. Though I really liked the first two thirds of the film (up to the point, when Stephen Dorff takes over the main-character (but that has nothing to do with his performance)). I found, that the last part was strange and somehow out of continuity. The first part strictly sticks to the idea of experiencing Apartheid from the view of a boy, who is growing up in a system of classes and injustice and who himself fails to really belong to any of these classes. The last part however suddenly tries to be a lot of movies in one: Action, Romance, Patriotism and a Historic Anti-apartheid picture. And I think, trying to do too much, it failed to be anything of the above in the end.

The reason I'm writing this comment now is, that I am just done reading Bryce Courtenays novel. And I was really surprised to learn, that exactly after two thirds of the story, the movie totally goes its own way and ignores the course things take in the novel. The last part of the Novel is just as great as the first. If you liked the movie (or at least the first part) read the book, it's worth it!

To sum it up: I believe The Power Of One had the potential to be an outstanding picture. The music was great, the landscapes beautiful and the acting excellent (Armin Müller Stahl at his best). But unfortunately somebody tried to write an american ending for an african story and couldn't have failed worse.

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33 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Okay then...

Author: David, Film Freak from Palmerston North, New Zealand
1 July 2001

Judging by the user comments, it would (definitely) seem that you guys think that 'The Power Of One' didn't have a snowballs chance in Hell of being a favorite with you guys, and that it was pretty much a waste of money (Stop me if I'm wrong). Am I right?

Well, I had to study the movie for an English assignment a week ago, and while these kind of movies usually bore the **** out of me, I found 'The Power Of One' to be a moving, and inspirational film. Of course, I haven't read the book (a book with that many pages? Hell no!) - and we all know that books are usually better.

But anyway, I really liked this film. Stephen Dorff's and Morgan Freeman's performances were great as eighteen-year-old P.K. and Gail Peit (or however the hell you spell his last name). And while Fay Masterston as Maria is an okay actress, she appears to be in the film for absolutely no reason at all.

Well, I still think 'The Power Of One' is a really good movie, no matter how many people pan it.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Movie certainly not up to par with the fantastic book

Author: (thesupertgal) from United States
19 August 2005

The Power Of One is based on a novel by the very talented Bryce Courtenay. The sequel novel,Tandia, which picks up right where The Power of One left off is equally moving and compelling reading.I am promptly going to go out and read everything else he has written. Both The Power of One and Tandia have moved me beyond words. I am a white South African girl who spent 19 years of my life in SA. I led a very privileged, sheltered childhood growing up in South Africa. I was just 15 when apartheid fell apart. My parents were not racist and in fact my father dedicated his life to working as a doctor in a very poor area but I still , unbelievably, never really had a very clear picture of the horror of apartheid until Mr Courtenay outlined it so vividly in these books.(as I said I was sheltered as a white child)I feel extraordinarily blessed and lucky to have directly avoided the violence and sickness that invaded my country for so long just because I was lucky enough to be born with white skin. I now live in the States but South Africa will always be home. I wept most of the way through both books. I have never been so moved in my life.Mr Courtenay summed up perfectly the collective guilt that white South Africans must carry with them forever more for our people's legacy of hate and brutality and oppression Even if we ourselves are not guilty - our people are guilty.He also, of course, inspires us to believe that one person can make a difference and that sanity,justice and compassion can win in the end even if the fight is long and hard.For those of you who think the characters are too stereotyped- in some aspects you are right. Not all Afrikaaners are the evil, racist villains that are portrayed in the books . However, I certainly encountered people growing up with unbelievable racism, fear and hate who do match some of the characters in the book.So there is truth to his characters also. I have no doubt that the brutality was accurate. One only has to look at historical events in SA history to confirm that. Thank you Mr Courtenay for your wonderful gift and for sharing it with the world.

As for the movie: I must admit it has been years since I happened upon it on television late at night. I do remember being quite swept up in the film but then being disappointed with the direction they chose to take it in. A Hollywood ending on what could have been a remarkable African movie.I do understand that film is a completely different medium and changes were necessary to adapt the book to film. Still I cannot help being disappointed with some of the changes that I deemed uneccessary such as the changing of Peekay's name from the wonderful, mystical"The Tadpole Angel" or "onoshobishobi ingelosi" to "The rainmaker" Come on! That's lame! The rainmaker?!That has none of the same feeling the other names invoke.The addition of the girlfriend just to give Peekay a love interest is unnecessary fluff and her character not well developed enough to warrant such an addition.Nonetheless, the film is still worth seeing.

I must say that I truly do hope that someone else re-makes this and does a better job.Tandia would make a fantastic film also. I am going to buy a copy on DVD and re-watch it and the post my thoughts here after refreshing it in my mind. I highly recommend reading both The Power Of One and Tandia to all interested in the history of apartheid in South Africa or just those looking for a good drama and a fascinating stories with strong characters.Even if you hate to read and are intimidated by the thought of reading such large books- just start- I guarantee you, you won't be able to put both these books down!If you haven't seen the film or read the books, I guess you should watch the film first. Otherwise you will be sorely disappointed and outraged at all the negative changes and you won't be able to truly enjoy the film for what it is: a nice attempt at an adaptation of a marvellous book.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Powerful but informative

Author: johnloomis201
14 June 2004

Having read both the book and watched the film, this is a great film.

Although lacking a lot of the depth and detail the book had it still captures the essence that Bryce Courtenay used in the book.

I myself grew up in South Africa during Apartheid and it was indeed a tragedy, this book captures what I saw during my time to the letter. The governing powers feared the tribes and from this grew hate,from hate anger.

I read the book whilst still in South Africa as a teenager and it left me with a tear more than once. The Film has been skillfully crafted as well as any adaptation can be done and still leaves me with a lump every time that pinnacle line is uttered: 'Little beat Big, If little is smart. First with the head, then with the Heart'

A shame that Robert Kamen didn't put the same emphasis that came from the book.

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15 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

The Power of One is very unique, Bryce Courtenay did a ...

Author: Sam ( from USA
15 December 2000

wonderful job at making the book (I read that). And for the directing of the film, it was fantastic. Starting with Peekay as the young boy at just 6 or 7 years old, being treated so horribly gives one a different view of life in Africa in the WW2 years. Several differences between the book and the movies, but that is to be expected. If you haven't read the book already, but you've seen the movie, you'll still feel the power and climatic of this production. Well put by the actors Stephen Dorff, Simon Fenton, Guy Witcher, who all played Peekay; Armin Mueller-Stahl for his peaceful acting of Doc; Morgan Freeman for Geel Pete; Fay Masterson for Maria; and all the rest for making such a tremendous thought-provoking film. A masterpeice telling people what is going on in the world, to get them to act to it. May the world flow with peace and beauty.

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Excellent film and music score.

Author: janmac73 from United Kingdom
2 August 2006

I watched this film several years ago and it brought back many memories of my life in South Africa. While living there I saw many things that were portrayed in the film so can relate to it. I thought all the actors were very good and but Morgan Freeman's role was truly exceptional and should have won him an Oscar for his portrayal. The accents were very much true to life even though the main characters were not South African. I found the story line very thought provoking and the music was so good I went out and bought the CD. I think it's about time they showed this film on TV as many things can be learnt from this. I feel this film is on a Parr with another South African film called Serafina which dealt with the riots in Soweto.

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

I can't believe this was how real human beings acted!

Author: Max from United States
11 June 2005

Watching this movie in history class to get a better understanding of colonialism and the conflicts in South Africa (mostly Apartheid), I realized that not everything that you watch in school sucks. On the last scene I cried (and this is the only movie I've ever shed a tear on). Why wasn't this HUGE? How many famous actors does this need to win an Oscar? This is definitely the most emotional film I've ever seen (that doesn't mean to watch it with you girlfriend)! If you're reading this and haven't seen it, then get up and run to Block Buster before they close!!!!! NOW!!!!!! This is definitely my favorite movie and you must see it if you haven't (although it probably won't be my favorite movie for long!?)!

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38 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

A disappointing adaptation. Nothing else.

Author: valdezlopez ( from Monterrey, Mexico
1 June 2003

I finished reading the book The Power of One, yesterday at 6pm. I saw the movie yesterday at 10 pm.

I should have waited a little bit longer.

Usually I first see the movie, then, the book it is based on, as not to get disappointed by the differences in it. I should have kept following the rule.

The movie The Power of One is a perfect example of how a producer can buy a story, lent it to a screenwriter who shreds it to pieces and then gives it to a director who mutilates it even more.

I am angry at how the book was mistreated. Angry at how so many characters were eliminated from the screen, angry at how many of the ones left were changed, angry at how the story was folded, twisted and changed for no reason at all, meeting no objective whatsoever.

Killing characters before time, changing names, cutting important scenes, and creating some that don't even come in the book, thus looking artificially inserted.

I know it's standard procedure for Hollywood to change a book in order to fit its necessities. But what have they done to this story is a criminal deed.

It will always, forever be known that the first version of this book was put into screen in such a horrible way.

I feel so angry. My book, my story.

The 513 pages I was so eager to read every night, every break I had, were gone.

The book is about THE POWER OF ONE. Of how a man can change its life, not depend on others if he wants to, or depend on others if he wants to.

To live your life at full extent. Not to fear things that are not worth fearing.

That's what it is about.

The book is not about apartheid and teaching black people. It's not about boxing and eight punch combinations. It's not about music and a mule named Beethoven. It's about persons. It's about A person. The movie totally missed that.

Why change the uncommon, the singular, the unique mythic name -given to Peekay- of "The Tadpole Angel", to one as clumsy, over used, simple and obvious as "The Rainmaker"?

The made the character of Doc a wimpy old guy who at the first chance abandons Peekay. In the book he is a powerful mentor that sticks to his protege. He is the father figure.

Peekay's mom is not around sufficient enough.

Mrs. Boxall, Mrs. Bornstein, Gert, Marie, Dee and Dum, Mevrou Hettie... all those characters you learn to appreciate (not love), are gone in screen.

Morris Levy, Hoppie Greenvald are transformed into something else besides what they are in the book.

The character of Maria Marais is made up for the movie. There was no need for that. How cheap. How low. How commercial.

Just let me tell you this: the director, the producer, whoever was in charge of the actors at the time, wasted away the presence of Armin Muehler Stahl as Doc, Morgan Freeman as Geel Piet and Sir John Gielgud as Sing'n'Burns with such tiny little useless appearances. That alone, is a sin in the cinema universe.

They three must have read the book and expected their characters to be the figures they had read about.

Peekay is a superb and excelse student, athlete and human. He has a pure innocence, will and love. Nothing of that sort is in the movie. They present him as a punchable boxer (he is untouchable in the book, but because he really makes an effort) who has no problems with money (he has to struggle even to get school stationary in the book) and who cares not one bit about the "Rainmaker" ("Tadpole Angel" in the book, where he does and fully accept the honor).

His determination to be the welterweight champion of the world (the representation of his desire to be unafraid, to be independent, to fulfill his power) is nowhere to be seen on screen.

I wasn't surprised to see the ending of Bryce Courtnay's book changed a 100%.

Hopefully, the author of the book expressed his strong discontent to the the movie makers about the treatment of his work.

Justice must be done and a remake must be filmed. The story can be done showing its richness onscreen.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

One of the Better films of the 90's

Author: aimless-46 from Kentucky
29 July 2004

Caution-Minor Spoilers ahead: John Avildsen could be considered the most interesting director of his generation if only for the huge range of quality among his films and the fact these differences seem to have little correlation with his level of experience. His best films include Joe (one of his first efforts), Rocky (several years later), and this film (late in his career). Mixed in between these high points are some moderate successes (Lean on Me and Save the Tiger) and some total dogs (Neighbors, The Karate Kid, WW and the Dixie Dance Kings, and Rocky V). It is hard to believe that it was same person, you either have to credit Avildsen with the 'courage' to take on even the most hopeless of scripts or with such financial desperation that he had to take anything that came his way.

With Avildsen the 'courage' angle (willing to attempt something without fear of failure and able to bounce back after failure) is the more likely, since courage is the recurring theme of most of his films: the solitary individual pitted against the oppressive and dehumanizing forces of the 'status quo'.

This is certainly true of 'The Power of One'. Bryce Courteney's book had that same theme and the film adaptation preserved it. Critics of the adaptation (and lovers of the book) complain that this is about the only thing that Avildsen preserved. While they are technically correct, their complaints are rather silly because the book(s) were basically un-filmable (at least commercially) and film is a different medium making comparison illogical anyway. While all adaptations contain many elements of a story, there will be omissions and changes-particularly with a novel like Courteney's. Those who complain that this adaptation was incomplete and inaccurate probably complained that 'Clueless' was an inaccurate adaptation of Jane Austin's 'Emma'. The point is that a movie is a movie and a book is a book. Actually this film was a blending of Courteney's story with Stephen Covey's 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' with the main character having to move from dependence to independence (private victory) before he can become effectively interdependent (public victory) and influence others. As someone said earlier, 'The Power Of One', despite ending with a statement proposing a bland union of absolute conviction, is not expansive but rather interior in its meaning. And this is indeed the paradox of art, when experiencing something the details are rapidly subsumed (as in subjective).

This is a more political story than the novel but the political elements are superficial and simplistic. And the premise of a white boy leading a whole race of people to their salvation is a bit over the top, an unnecessary and forced way of extending Courteney's individual inner power to a collective unity. But such is the nature of film, where pacing considerations and time constraints make reliance on stereotypes necessary to economically convey a message. And in a sweeping historical story like this there is no way to provide a great deal of depth to the characters. But Avildsen does a good job with his main character, a consistent style of frequent reaction shots of PK remind the viewer that the film is entirely his point-of-view and his impressions as he grows up. The solitary individual pitted against an oppressive power structure, his 'power of one' being an ability to experience personal tragedy/inhumanity and yet retain his humanness, as a child he learns to not let fear restrict the experience of living.

What makes the film good is that while Avildsen's political message is heavy-handed and stereotyped, he makes good use of the time this buys him for other story elements. Some have asked why Fay Masterson's 'Maria' character was added to the screenplay (Maria was not in Courteney's novel). This was a special subtle touch by Avildsen. Masterson is as perfect looking as Nicole Kidman but somehow much more real. Two of the best visual scenes in the film revolve around her character. The first is PK's initial glimpse of Maria in the audience at his championship fight (homage to Rocky's search for Adrian in the crowd). It is visually amazing-Masterson has an angelic glow in this shot which makes PK's instant enthrallment and improbable pursuit seem quite believable. And Masterson handles the subtle acting requirements of this difficult role extremely well, representing those Afrikaners who were able to overcome their childhood indoctrination, see their racist institutions for what they were, and work for change. The other key scene is Maria's funeral where Avildsen shows her father's sudden grasp of what a special person she was, and special for the very qualities he tried to suppress in her while she was still alive. This scene could have been clumsy and silly but Avildsen stages it with such subtlety that we accept that her father has been inspired to work for reform. Film is such a powerful medium because when done correctly it can visually tell a story in a few seconds more convincingly than in a hundred pages of text.

Bottom line this is not a perfect movie nor is it an accurate adaptation of the book. It is a very entertaining film more 'inspired' by the book than adapted from it. It has great visuals of the veldt and has wonderful African music. The historical subject is worth telling and the individual themes of justice, hope, and courage offer a very positive message. 7 out of 10

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