Screening Room: ‘T-Rex’

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As if growing up poor in Flint, Michigan wasn’t difficult enough, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields decided to set herself a lofty goal: Becoming the first woman to win a gold medal in boxing at the Olympics.

Shields’s awesomely gripping story is the subject of T-Rex, which is playing now in limited release and should show up on PBS in the next year. My review is at Film Journal International:

Outgoing but tough and pragmatic, Shields is blunt about how she got started at the gym she’s been boxing at since age eleven: “I was just down here, beating guys… It was something I liked to do”…

Here’s the trailer:

New in Theaters: ‘China Heavyweight’

Although the martial art that Westerners most associate China with is kung fu or one of its many variations, one of the most popular physical-contact sports in the country right now is Western-style boxing. Outlawed by Chariman Mao in 1959 as being too Western and too violent (a boxer died at a match in 1953), the sport was made legal again three decades later, and has been gaining ascendancy ever since. When China hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, the nation took home a gold medal. Although a film about the popularity of this sport in the home of kung fu would seem destined to highlight the obvious cultural dissonances, director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze) does the right thing by focusing on the young and hopeful athletes for whom this tradition isn’t foreign at all…

China Heavyweight is playing now in limited release. You can read the full review at Film Journal International.