About 60%

Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett) works in an active Denver newsroom. He’s a sportswriter, dressed casually, if white collar. Then there’s Champ (Samuel L Jackson), homeless, covered only in rags and permanently attached to his shopping cart.

These two men are equals.

Resurrecting the Champ is a story of truth and admission. Both Erik and Champ live on lies, Erik that he’s famous, Champ that he once was. While Resurrecting the Champ relies on groan-inducing moments of disappointed kindergartners for drama, it’s well drawn as to bring seemingly divergent people together. Inspiring, in an unorthodox way.

There’s a sense of sorrow in the script. Kernan’s journalistic actions draw rightful scorn; he learns a cover story wasn’t thoroughly verified, but uses the piece to boost his career. As Hartnett plays the role, Kernan manipulates his way into Champ’s life, desperate to salvage a sinking writing career. And Champ, raspy-voiced and teetering mentally, drained of normalcy by boxing. Resurrecting the Champ isn’t shy about calling out both professions and what they do to people.

Resurrecting the Champ creates a capable drama, blending the tenants of a sports movie with a journalism saga

Those punches pull back, ironically. Resurrecting the Champ’s studio origins involve a tired family drama as Kernan wrestles with a failing marriage. Years of lies to his son inevitably lead to an emotional blow up with a crying toddler. That’s all too deliberate. More infuriating, no one helps Champ during a multitude of assaults from the same, crudely drawn attacker trying to prove his masculinity. As such, those beatings feel equally manipulative.

Good stuff here lies underneath the story, about how mistakes pile up, how we fix them, and become better people in the process. A minor character played by Teri Hatcher shrewdly promotes boxing for Showtime, openly divorced from the long term effects of head punches; she’s lying to herself and pulling others with her. For Kernan, that’s a carefully composed turning point where the future of his own mistakes begin to show.

Credit to Resurrecting the Champ for developing character instead of rushing in to the gusto of this story. It’s a build toward likability and empathy, over an hour until reality sets in. With that time, Resurrecting the Champ creates a capable drama, blending the tenants of a sports movie with a journalism saga. Missteps acknowledged, the morality and eventual honesty of Resurrecting the Champ cover the calculated dramatic beats.


This Super 35 production challenges the encode with heavy grain. MVD’s encode does well here. It’s spacious and clean, no artifacting noted.

Super 35’s nature means a softer image from the blow up, but this is still well textured imagery. Close-ups produce facial definition, greatly resolving the subtle make-up on Jackson. Exteriors of Denver capture the rougher parts of the city, with plentiful detail to appreciate.

Resurrecting the Champ utilizes a muted palette for most of the runtime. A typical warm/cool contrast suits this narrative. Flashbacks turn up saturation with an extreme touch, pleasingly surreal and dream-like.

Note the dimmer color doesn’t cost Resurrecting the Champ’s Blu-ray any depth. Shadows stabilize and pure whites bounce off. It’s an accurate and clean offering.


The 5.1 mix is only available compressed while PCM comes in stereo. That’s odd. Despite the compression, 5.1 envelops well. Stadiums spread crowd sounds wide. A casino fill in the soundstage too. Plus, newsrooms send voices around as needed. Mixing focuses on atmosphere.

A few boxing scenes up the LFE a touch, accentuating punches, but never to an outrageous level. Design is such that realism is favored over bombast.


A short EPK and a slew of EPK-designed interview clips make up a good bulk of the bonus menu. The best choice is director Rod Lurie’s commentary.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Remembering the Champ
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


A pleasing mix of sports and journalism drama, Remembering the Champ only falls when trying to pull too hard on the heartstrings.

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