Champion Reviews

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June 26, 2014
As Machete is one of the greatest films I have ever seen and its titular actor Danny Trejo has an interesting life story, I thought that a documentary about him would be great.

Danny Trejo is such an interesting figure because of the fact that he has the intimidating appearance of a true tough guy, and yet he is one of those guys that you can truly get into an insightful conversation with. He is one of those men who on the surface as the appearance of a person you would not annoy in a million years, and yet he has the soul of a damaged poet. Champion does an exceptional job of revealing that soul, telling his life story from the way that his life was damaged as a child to how he turned into a hardened criminal before turning his faith to a higher power and turning his entire life around in the process. Champion is an inspiring story about a man whose life turned to despair and was given a second chance by God and Cinema, and although films that talk about the former are common, a movie that focuses more so on the latter is a new idea to me. Cinema is a passion which kept Danny Trejo going and ended up being enough of an influence to spread his story around and even get it chronicled in the documentary Champion. Considering that five years after Champion Danny Trejo would go on to earn worldwide recognition for his leading performance as the titular warrior Machete Cortez in the homage to mexploitation films entitled Machete, it is excellent to see a film like Champion which revealed just how he came to be the person that he is. Champion talks about how even the smallest contributor to a film can have such a wonderful effect on the lives of people and reminds us that every person in the world is living some kind of life we don't know. The fact that we know his is spectacular, and I walked away from Champion with a newfound respect for him. While his story is one that has been covered in many documentaries about similar people and the film can only go so far without always getting as deep or as honest as it could, what it does project is magnificent and proves to be inspiring, thought provoking and above all, entertaining.
Danny Tejo expresses his way that his belief in God and the Twelve Step Program helped to save his life, and so it serves as a tale about how even one's beliefs alone can save their life, as in the way that one's psychological functioning can manifest itself into a physical existence which makes life better for the person living it. Frankly, it is hard not to feel the kind of inspiration in Danny Trejo's story, and although it is similar to the lives that hundreds of people have lived before, the way that he tails his story with such honesty and without forming some kind of artificial shell for himself is just exceptional. Champion is a chance for Danny Trejo to truly tell his story, and that is exactly what he does with the film. Every time he speaks, my attention was fully focused on him because I was always interested in what he had to say and in finding out just what kind of a person he is. He bears out his soul for viewers in Champion and reveals just how he has kept on fighting for so long even though he has gone through prison sentences and faced the betrayal of being brought into a life of crime by his uncle, the one man that he really trusted in the world and valued so dear to his heart.
Champion finds a strong balance between revealing just who Danny Trejo was and how he affected people around him, and they all mention how they were very intimidated by his appearance but consider him to be one of the most kindred spirits they have ever met. It interviews many people, including notable celebrities Steve Buscemi, Dennis Hopper and Robert Rodriguez among others. They all have a lot of interesting things to say about him which means that Champion covers both who Danny Trejo is and what he means to people. The interviewed people speak with true passion for him which is insightful and honest, and it makes the experience a terrific one. You would not expect that Danny Trejo's mere existence had touched so many people in life or that he was able to get so lucky as to turn everything around. While the film follows a pretty basic path for a documentary and brings many topics to the surface without always getting into a deep and meaningful exploration of them, it ends up doing a job which is good enough to entertain and educate. Plus, the movie is constantly talking about something and tends not to drag on but rather keeps on finding something new of interest to bring up and discuss. Champion is not the most 100% interesting film and it doesn't always have too much to discuss, but really, it is a film about a man who most people would have spotted in films but not have known the stories about. And it tells it well enough to be inspiring and even heartwarming.

So while Champion follows a conventional route as a documentary and tells a story which feels rather familiar even though the film is a documentary, the fact is that it is an honest and very touching film which reveals the life of Danny Trejo through both his own telling and the interviews with many people in his life, and it makes for a very touching experience. It is a great tribute to the man himself who has lived through so much and also serves as an in depth exploration about how one can turn their life around when really determined to do so.
February 25, 2014
The style in which this was directed was quite poor
July 1, 2012
Very inspiring, insightful piece of work. Danny Trejo is one of those life champions whose life got changed upside down the day they realize they were wrong and started doing good.
I admire such individuals, as Danny.
April 27, 2012
Everyone knows his face and even if you know little about Danny Trejo, its easy to tell that he's had a colourful life. This is his story from childhood to stardom. From a 10 year old druggie to a teenage armed robber to his countless prison terms... and eventually to 30 years of sobriety and a charitable life. His story is definitely a cautionary tale and its told here staight from the horses mouth. The film is basically one long interview with a few intercut comments from the likes of Dennis Hopper, Robert Rodriguz, Val Kilmer, Steve Buscemi and Eddie Bunker. At times I found the neverending stories of prison life to be repetative and tiresome, but when you get to see the regret and anguish in his face, the film has some real moments of poignancy and inspiration. A fascinating subject for a doco and it's worth a look.
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2012
"Champion" is a fascinating and insightful documentary about Danny Trejo, an ex-convict who turned his life around to become an accidental character actor who was recruited into the craft to give authenticity to movies.(His most recent role was a recurring part on "Sons of Anarchy" this past season.) Even as stunned as he is at his success, this comes naturally to him since he says he was giving a performance in jail to convince everybody else how tough he was. Now, that's method acting.

"Champion" is framed in a series of interviews, sometimes on location like San Quentin where he signs autographs for convicts who look up to him, that allow him to tell his story in his own words. With a garrulous presence, he starts with when he fell under the sway of a criminal relative as a juvenile that leads to a life of drugs and crime(as he says, one feeds off the other) and prison where he hits rock bottom in solitary. He credits his turnaround to God and Alcoholics Anonymous and any good fortune to a life of good deeds in his work as a drug counselor.
November 14, 2011
A must see for anybody who is a fan of Danny Trejo.
May 22, 2011
You don't really know this actor until you see his true colors. After watching this, I gained a lot of respect for him.
½ March 6, 2011
danny trejo's life story is fascinating and it is highly interesting and inspiring to hear him tell his story. as a movie, it could have been made better.
February 22, 2011
Danny Trejo = fuckin legend.
September 5, 2010
An inspiring look into the life of one of the most recognizable character actors today. I'm personally a huge fan of Danny Trejo, most specifically of his work in Robert Rodriguez's films, so listening to the incredible stories this man has to tell straight from his own mouth was really fantastic. Trejo is an incredibly charming man who has managed to take all the bad in his life and channel it into something wonderful. Inspiring watch.
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2010
a lot of his memories involved hand grenades.. but his life is a surprisingly uplifting story.
January 4, 2010
Truly inspirational story of former child drug addict, gang member and convict Danny Trejo who has reformed himself and reaped the rewards. He is now a succesful actor and drug counselour who tours schools around the US telling his stories and helping others to avoid the pitfulls which he became a victim of. This is a story which is deserving of a hollywood movie and hopefully Danny continues to find success through his acting and counselling work. Can't wait for Machete!
July 6, 2008
I love Danny Trejo, the kind gentle man, yet scariest meanest looking man you'd want to NOT screw with.
July 31, 2007
excellent documentary of the life of actor danny trejo before he became an actor. very interesting. good job.
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