It is the 1980 Wimbledon tennis championship. Bjorn Borg is the number 1 tennis player in the world and the undisputed king of Wimbledon. He has won the tournament four times in a row - a fifth consecutive time would be a world first. However, a new face has appeared in the tennis world and presents a serious threat to Borg's title hopes - John McEnroe.Written by
In the scene where Björn Borg enters a bar/café and to hide from fans and use the phone, a bottle of Hendrick's Gin can be seen on the shelf behind the waiter. Hendrick's Gin was only launched in 1999. See more »
You can't be serious! You can not be serious! The ball was on the line! Chalk flew all over, man. The chalk flew up! He saw it. That's why he's walking all over it. Everyone saw it was in. You cannot possibly call that out.
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In full disclosure, I am a tennis player and as a boy I idolized McEnroe. I admired Borg a great deal as well. What made this match and all of their matches so great and so riveting was their completely opposing approaches to the game. Borg was the greatest baseliner to play the game. It was nearly impossible to get get the ball by him. His steadiness and zen-like approach to the game gave birth to many baseliners in his wake, most notably someone like Andre Aggasi. McEnroe was was the first ever punk rock athelete. No player in history had shown so much anger and rage, but mostly so much desire to win. It was raw rock n roll. It was a bit of a paradox because though he was a punk rocker in his attitude and in his passion, his game was a throwback to Rod Laver. He was an artist on the court. On any given point you might see topspin forehands, slice backhands, drop shots, lobs, breath taking volleys, and backhand overheads. He had a complete game. While Borg was content to outhit his opponents, McEnroe was eager to cut the points short. He would take every opportunity to come into the net and display his artistry.
Of course none of this is apparent in the film. The problem with sports films is that most actors are not atheletes. So a director has to be inventive in his camera work to cover the fact that his actors don't know how to play. A rally with Borg might go 15 Strokes. Tennis is about court position. For McEnroe to beat Borg he had to chose his spots. When is the right time to approach the net? Where do you hit the ball when you are there? Shia was quoted as saying that he despised tennis and he hopes to never play again. He clearly chose this roll, not to impress us with his tennis skills, but because he wanted to play McEnroe the man.
This film unfortunately climaxes with the finals match at Wimbledon, normally something I would enjoy because after all this film is about tennis, but it is shot so horribly that you never see Borg hitting back 10-15 groundstrokes. You never see his unquie at the time, 2 handed backhand Vs Mac's classical one handed. You never see Borg trying to pass Mac at the net. You never see the tennis artistry of McEnroe at all in this film. The way it is shot you really only see the the players heads and quick 2 stroke rallies which is like going to see Miles Davis play Mary had a Little Lamb for 2 hours.
I feel bad for tennis players because they will feel cheated like I did by this film, but I feel worse the non-tennis fans because they will walk away from this film and completely miss how revolutionary and inspiring these two great athletes are. They might just shrug and say "what's the big deal?"
That is a crime.
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