This exceptional film captivated me from the start and never let go. The skillfully scripted story line presents the viewer with contextual background on the sport of women's boxing, an exploration into the psyche of the participants, and a chronicle of Lucia Rijker's rise to the top of the sport. These elements combine with a fresh creative film style and stimulating original soundtrack to afford the viewer a truly visceral understanding of what women's boxing is all about. You'll either be inspired to get in the ring or swear its not for you. I particularly enjoyed the diverse and entertaining cast of characters who all contribute to a rich experience. This film is definitely interesting and insightful, but more than that, it is a lot of fun to watch.
Why do women fight? This riveting behind-the-scenes look into the world of the female combatant takes us from manicures to knockouts! It turns our attention to the woman who is widely considered pound for pound the most dangerous fighter of any time, undefeated boxing sensation Lucia Rijker (Rollerball, TV's "Thunderbox"). She reveals the stages of physical, mental and spiritual growth while smashing opponents and preconceptions. "Shadow Boxers" exposes the beauty and brutality of the sport through the eyes of the introspective fighter while showing what's really at stake when women enter the ring. Recently, more and more women are entering the sport of boxing, competing with vigor on a turf that was formerly restricted to men. A rising star in this arena is Dutch boxer Lucia Rijker and this film focussed on her. We see her training. We hear accolades from important people in the boxing profession. And we listen to her philosophy -- "Because you can get hit, because you can get hurt, because you can get knocked down. It's like real life."
Most of the film shows her in matches and the audience sees her extraordinary strength and focus over and over again, almost feeling those powerful punches. We can appreciate the breakthroughs she and others like her have made and see that the sport of women's boxing is growing. For this view into this special world, the film succeeds. However, I found myself bored. Even a documentary needs dramatic tension and that was lacking here. I couldn't root for her because it was obvious she was winning every fight. And, except for a brief interview with her and her Dutch-speaking mother, we really did not get to know her. In this way the film seemed more of a promotional piece than a documentary.
Ms. Rijker speaks perfect English and expresses herself well. She now lives in Los Angeles but I yearned for some more background. With her dark hair and slightly African or Indian features, I found myself thinking about her ethnic heritage and hoped for a few words about that. Basically, I wanted more depth because the highlights of one boxing bout after another just doesn't do it for me. The film is short, only 72 minutes. It needed more time to explore and intrigue. If you are particularly interested in women's boxing, you might like this film. But I can only give a lukewarm recommendation to a film that literally put me to sleep.