Shadow Boxers | Chicago Reader

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Katya Bankowsky's 1999 documentary profiles boxer Lucia Rijker, a brawny, handsome, racially mixed young woman from the Netherlands who swiftly rose to the top of the heap at the 1997 WIBA world championship. A host of talking heads—family members, trainers, promoters, boxers male and female—comments on her prowess, balletic grace, and odd obsession. But Rijker's straightforward pop philosophizing amply reveals her motivations for participating in what even she admits is a “brutal, demanding” sport. The film's inspirational tone obscures the minor setbacks Rijker encountered and diminishes the narrative tension, yet Bankowsky, who's been a pugilist herself, compensates with a sharp sense of rhythm, using hip-hop and turntablist sounds by Zoel to fuel Anthony Hardwick and Tony Wolberg's aggressive cinematography (in both actual bouts and staged black-and-white sequences that pay homage to Raging Bull). 72 min.

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