Released just 2 months after Bigil, one might write off Champion as a literal poor man’s version of that big budget production. Champion‘s star (Vishwa K as Jones) is an unknown newcomer, there are no dance scenes or music videos, and there is no CGI. Both films relate to criminal life in the slums, but the 2 films don’t really compare.
While Bigil is about a ganglord finding redemption, Champion is about a young man at the beginning of a potential football career. Young Jones must choose between pursuing a life of potential, or else seeking revenge.
Jones is a little boy whose father taught him the love of the game. But Dad dies on the pitch. Mom moves to another area for a new start and forbids her son from following Dad’s path into football. But Jones persists, and as a 19 year old, he seeks out Coach Santha (Narain), who was Dad’s good buddy, and who takes him onto his team.
But before Jones can get his big break that will lead to the I-League and the National Team, he discovers that his father was actually a thug murdered on the pitch by his own boss. Jones gets caught up in planning a revenge murder until Santha finds a good distraction for the boy. But, the boss finds out that Jones knows the truth, so he and his henchmen ambush the boy and Santha on the way to the big game. It’s a good thing that Santha has excellent machete skills.
That summary was greatly abbreviated to the key theme. There are side excursions into a couple of little romances, an overbearing mum, a lot of motorcycle action, some knife fights, and a little corruption. Watch the film to experience all that.
As you might guess, this film is not really about football, it is about revenge. It is the third sports-related feature by Director Suseenthiran, and football is just a metaphor for whatever you could be doing in your life that is better than being a criminal. The soccer consists of practices and a little bit of juggling. It appears that Vishwa has some real soccer skills, and he is also quite good at crying and looking miserable.
The slum pickup game where Jones’ Dad is murdered is an interesting depiction of how to kill someone on a pitch in plain sight without fans knowing. It helps that there is no VAR.
Champion is the only soccer movie from India that I have watched twice. That’s not because the film is so great, but because the story took several turns that became a bit confusing for me. To give it a fair review, I watched it again.
What really saves this film are the performances by Coach Santha and many of the other actors. Because of that, I rate this film second after Bigil of all the Indian soccer dramas that I have seen. So you could do a lot worse.
7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7