The Power of One (1992)
John G. Avildsen, director of Rocky and The Karate Kid, adapts Bryce Courtenay's compassionate novel about the coming of age of a white anti-apartheid activist during the years of World War II in South Africa. Avildsen cumbersomely grafts Courtenay's tale of fighting apartheid onto a Hollywood-style fight-for-the-championship bout. Seven-year-old P.K. (Guy Witcher) is a white South African raised on his family's farm by his Zulu nanny. When his mother takes ill, he is sent away to an Afrikaner boarding school, where he is picked on and nearly killed by the school bully during a pep rally for Hitler. P.K. survives and is sent to live with his grandfather. He befriends Doc (Armin Mueller-Stahl), a jailed German musician, and a black inmate (Morgan Freeman), who teaches P.K. how to use his fists for some quick boxing moves. At 12, P.K. (now played by Simon Fenton), witnesses black inmates being cruelly humiliated by their racist white jailers. Taking note of P.K.'s fluidity for languages, his black mentor spreads the word that P.K. is the incarnation of the mythic Rain Maker, a messianic liberator who is destined to unite all the African tribes. By the time he's 18 years old, P.K. (now played by Stephen Dorff) is becoming the Great White Hope for the black Africans, boxing his way into their hearts and minds. He joins up with an old boxing foe (Alois Moyo), who is now a township activist, and takes up the apartheid struggle. But things get confusing when P.K. falls in love with the daughter (Fay Masterson) of an apartheid leader. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Power of One
Beautifully produced and gorgeously shot on location in Zimbabwe by lenser Dean Semler, picture has depth, dimension and first-rate casting.
Avildsen draws good performances from the three actors who play PK, as well as from the ever-reliable Freeman and Müller-Stahl, but subtlety is abandoned when he focuses on the ring and teen romance.
The film's facile treatment of racial issues may be enough to bring back the practice of throwing tomatoes at the screen.
A violent cartoon that trivializes apartheid. If there's any justice, the birds of loneliness will be circling the box office.
It's resounding bunk, candied over with the lush music of Johnny Clegg and hyped to death by director John ("Rocky") Avildsen.
Though rife with worthy intentions and great notions, this populist safari manages to be both patronizing and manipulative.
A startling film about a young South African boy's coming of age under the tutelage of three spiritual elders.
This is patronizing, offensive garbage, bought to you by the director of The Karate Kid.
Audience Reviews for The Power of One
Another movie I had to watch in school about apartheid in South Africa. This is one of the best of the bunch, I think. It's exciting and dramatic and has a lot of good actors. If you want to see a movie on the subject, I'd recommend this one.More
Ladies and gentlemen, here is an example of a very rare type of film, a mediocre one. Truly mediocre, equal parts bad and good, one of the worst kind of movies to watch. Why are they so bad to watch? A good film, well, you enjoy it, and a bad film can be made fun of for a good laugh. But The Power of One has some great performances (Morgan Freeman, and a very young Daniel Craig), but the absolutely shoddy writing hurts it. The movie is decent up until the last 20 minutes in which (SLIGHT SPOILERS) a main character is killed in a borderline hilarious fashion (felt like it was part of a Monty Python skit, not a serious dramatic death). The last 20 minutes try to end the movie as quickly as it can, so the ending feels rushed and to top if all off, has NO closure to speak of. NONE. Don't recommend this one, only if you're desperate to watch Morgan Freeman or Daniel Craig.More
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