Set against the backdrop of terrible poverty, the failing health of Castro and a country feeling the pinch of its isolation from the global community the stories of Junior, Santos and Cristian stand as metaphors for the hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations of a whole nation. Cristian is the son of a former Olympic and World champion yet his father lives in a shack with no money. Despite the proof of what the rewards for all his efforts will be Cristian wants to become a champion too so that his country, his friends and his family can be proud of him. This sense of patriotism and the importance of community and family is impressive but one cannot help but wonder to what extent it has been engineered by propaganda in schools and the media.
Whatever the questions that are raised about the nature of Cuba when Cristian enters the ring for the chance to become national champion it is a moment that matches "Rocky" for tension and emotional punch. It's tempting to tell you that this film is a "knockout" but that would be too easy...ah, I've just done it. I'll try harder next time.