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25 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Well-crafted and underrated

10/10
Author: speechmasters from east coast
1 June 2003

I was surprised at the low overall rating this movie got. It won a Best Editing award, and the fine photography, editing, and one of the best jobs of musical scoring I have ever heard, alone, make it very watchable. Shot mostly on location in Berlin, check out the production design. Better than many feature films completed on ten times the budget. The interiors and exteriors of Harlem nightclubs and Third Reich headquarters never looked more accurate or better lit. I agree that there is some mis-casting, and while the acting isn't Oscar caliber, it isn't bad either. As far as being a movie for boxing fans only--no. I have no interest whatsoever in sports, and found the story compelling. The wider influence that sports has on society is an interesting context. Max Snelling getting big corporate sponsorship just months after honing a reputation as one of the worlds most hated personas--brings to mind parallels in todays celebrity-driven scene.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Not just for boxing fans!

8/10
Author: newbs_thats_me from Australia
31 January 2006

This is an excellent film that deals with historical issues throughout the war years as well as the lives of these two great sports men. It also portrays the themes of love, friendship and triumph over adversity- not just the boxing matches! I really enjoyed it so the statement that its just for boxing fans is completely irrelevant. The story itself is very emotional. it really draws you into the plot and forces you to empathise with the characters as they live through the injustices of the second world war and also face such issues as racism and a stereotypical view of people at the time. I also really loved the fact that it remains historically correct when it examines the lives of both Max Schmeling and Joe Lewis. I'm sure there is a certain degree of sensationalising done for the film but it pretty much retells an accurate story. Overall a great film.

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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

moving historical drama

10/10
Author: wolfiamadeus from Vienna, Austria
25 September 2005

I live in Austria and saw the film until a few minutes ago for the first time via satellite broad casted on German television. I think the film shows how sport can be used and abused in a political way and when you stop winning people tend to forget you. I found the film very moving because parts of it reminded me of what my grandmother told me about the war and about the rebuilding of our city and often a lot of unright things happened to people because they were accused of being Nazis after the war like max schmeling was in the movie. it also shows how heroes are sometimes treated because Joe louis did a lot for his motherland in ww2 and later nobody helped him when he needed help. its sad that such things can happen to people who have served their home country so well. Its nice that he was honored after his life but he hasn't had it easier during his life though. This film brought up a lot of emotion in me although i didn't even plan to watch it, i just zapped in. I would recommend it to everybody and i'll give it a clear 10

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The movie narrates the historical boxing confrontation between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling

7/10
Author: ma-cortes
12 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The film is correctly based on true events, it concerns about Joe Louis(Leonard Roberts),the American Brown Bomber and Max Schmeling(Til Schweiger),the strongest man in Germany.Joe Louis was United States' most successful heavyweight boxer and champion of the world until his defeat by Rocky Marciano with led to downfall,his wife((Siena Gaines) separation and towards the end of his life.Most experts had predicted that the black boxer would have no trouble with the aging German.Schmeling was the only German to hold the heavyweight championship of the world .His victory over Joe Louis in N.Y. in the summer of 1936 was greeted with an explosion of joy in the Third Reich.Nazi propagandists ,however, insisted that regarded as the strongest on earth could not be beaten by a Negro.Both Hitler(Rolf Kaines) and Joseph Goebbels(Wilfried Hoch),Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda sent Schleming telegrams of congratulations.An extraordinary welcome was arranged for the German Boxer on his return home.From that point he became a display figure for Nazi propagandists, who hailed his victory as a triumph for the Nordic race over inferior black athletes.But German boxing fans were crushed when was received that in a return bout on June 22,1938,the engagement was arranged at Yankee stadium.In this grudge combat Louis hurled himself at the German with unrestrained fury.Louis gave him a fearful beating in the second shortest fight heavyweight history.The consternation was matched by another disappointment when it was revealed that Annie Ondra(Peta Wilson),the tall,big-boned,blond German woman and besides a famous actress,who was regarded as the ideal specimen of Aryan womanhood,was actually Jewish.Later Schmeling recruited in the German Army.On May 20,1941 ,he was one of the parachutists who jumped from transport planes to occupy Crete in a brilliant assault.From 1957 on he was the owner of an American Coca Cola franchise and retained his popularity as a great sports figure in both USA and Germany. The picture has a magnificent acting by all the cast and especially the duo protagonist(Roberts and Schweiger).Atmospheric music by Jeff Beal and excellent cinematography by Bill Butler.The motion picture is well directed by Steve James. Rating: Notable and well worth watching.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyed it

8/10
Author: edeck (edeck@peoplenetonline.com) from United States
24 February 2005

I follow boxing to some extent, and have always been captivated by the Louis-Schmeling fights. However, I was unaware that Max was alive until just a few weeks ago. The movie does a good job based on the fact surrounding and leading up to the fight. As one poster mentioned earlier, they didn't note Max being champ in 1930, I believe. He beat James Braddock by DQ, then defended once, and lost to Braddock in rematch in controversial decision. I highly recommend this movie. The situation these two men were in had to be highly stressful. Louis defending his race and his nation, Max supposedly defending Nazi Germany and the White Race. Neither one appeared comfortable in those roles.

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7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Not bad actually pretty good

Author: Big Cat 12 from USA
11 March 2002

I liked the show. I know something about boxing and I far as I know, it was pretty accurate.

One thing though-Max Schmeling was an ex-world heavyweight champion before he fought Joe Lewis and I don't believe that was mentioned in the movie. The part when Max saved the Jewish family from the Nazis was fairly accurate, as was the fact that Max did much better than Joe after their boxing careers ended.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Boxing against Nazism

8/10
Author: nablaquadro from Ravenna, Italy
29 December 2006

Always loved sports movie about boxing, from the masterpieces to B-movies about kick-boxing.

Joe & Max apparently is a made-for-TV movie, with a low budget and then unpretentious. Perhaps it's so, but does money really matter so much ? I think no. Boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling were friends beyond the politics, the obtuse ideologies and war; but rivals just on the ring. The fighting scenes were shot with a look to the old footages, in black and white, gifting a credible appearance to the whole action parts. Interesting the relation between Max and his wife, their spirit of sacrifice against government, racism and the dirty propaganda elevating Joe as Nazism's pride.

The stage designing is a little too simple, so the city looks a bit fake, but it's not a damage. An enjoyable mix of sport drama and history inside an "impossible" friendship.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Pretty interesting--particularly if you are unacquainted with the athletes.

7/10
Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
27 June 2011

This film is the dramatization of events in the lives of heavyweight boxers Joe Louis and Max Schmeling--and focusing particularly on their fights and subsequent friendship--though the latter is only vaguely addressed at the very end of the film. In fact, I wished the film had focused on this more as the title seems to imply this would be addressed. Still, the film makers did a nice job assembling the film--and it's worth seeing. As for me, I enjoyed this film very much, though I also think it's designed to be watched by viewers who really don't know all that much about Max Schemling and Joe Louis. That's because there were a lot of facts about the two men that were not mentioned in the movie. In most cases, this wasn't that important, though it was odd that considering the title of the movie they didn't mention that due to Louis' finances, Schmeling actually helped pay for Louis' funeral.

By the way, it's a minor thing but I thought the matte paintings used in the film were really poor. They simply looked like paintings--and my daughter noticed this as well. Also, after Louis lost the first match against Schmeling, it appeared in the film as if Louis was then given a chance at the title (an odd thing considering the loss). Well, this was not the case, as Louis fought eight more fights before the title match.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Good story, bad film

3/10
Author: btm1 from United States
2 March 2009

The true story of the relationship between world heavyweight champion Joe Louis and European heavyweight champion Max Schmelling is one of the "truth is stranger than fiction" variety. In their first meeting in 1936, a young Joe Lewis was the leading contender for a title shot while the 10 years older German Schmelling was the European champion. When underdog Schmelling defeated Lewis he reluctantly became a propaganda icon for Hitlers regime. Lewis at that time was the pride and hope of the "Negro race" (as people of African lineage were then called by decent people), but "white" America apparently was wary of him. After he beat Schmelling in the second fight Lewis became an idol of all America, while the embarrassed Nazis made Schmelling a non-entity in Nazi Germany. During the war Schmelling was made an ordinary soldier in the German Army, while Lewis' tour in the US Army was as a celebrity used for troop morale. Later, after Lewis retired undefeated, he learned that he owed a huge amount of money to the IRS and had to go back into boxing to try to rid himself of the debt. (The film does not get into the details, but supposedly Lewis, who was not well educated, had relied on his manager and promoter to handle his finances, including preparing tax returns.) But Lewis was too old now and was humiliated in the ring. He then took a variety of demeaning jobs in an attempt to pay off the debt, which he never was able to accomplish. The movie does not address the disgraceful issue of why no U.S. President gave him some sort of a pardon forgiving this American hero of the debt. In the meantime, Schmelling has a phoenix-like reversal of fortune when Coca Cola sought him out to use him in a campaign to capture the German market for its product.

So the basis for an interesting movie was there. The problem was in the implementation.

The film seemed badly paced and choppy. Many of the scenes seemed to me needlessly drawn out, with the camera sometimes lingering on objects, such as a railroad train for no reason that I can think of. The parts of the film I liked best are the scenes in with Schmelling (Til Schweiger) and his actress wife (Peta Wilson) in Germany.

As was noted in another comment, the actors looked nothing like the well known people they were portraying. Although not stated in the IMDb cast listing, it looked to me that different actors were used for the younger and older Joe Lewis, with neither resembling the real Joe Lewis nor even each other. Rocky Marciano, a short fireplug of a fighter with a battered face he got wading into his taller, longer armed opponents that often made him look more like the loser than the winner of his fights, was played by a tall unmarked fighter. The musical score does nothing to aid the movie.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Doesn't tell ENOUGH of the truth

7/10
Author: (dunsuls@hotmail.com) from League City Texas
24 June 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The real story of these 2 boxing legends would take a TV series a few years to give it justice.This Starrz movie released in 2002 tries it in 106 minutes with a so so cast and a poor choice for the actor,Leonard Roberts as Joe Louis,who doesn't have the screen presence to portray such a legendary figure.However the story of these two men is so compelling that we should be happy for at least this effort by Starrz and enjoy it as such.Til Schweiger as Max Schmeling is a bit more believable since less is known by most about him.He was vilified as a "Nazi"and so this film tries to redefine that image of him and rightly so.Not shown in this film is the fact he helped paid for Joes funeral and although he is shown helping a Jewish neighbor in the film,the story is more compelling then shown.In total the film is a good start but the fact the IRS hounded Joe till his death is indeed a story for our times.Nether Joe or Max with without sin,but they were both heros and deserve to be remembered.

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