I love a good biographical drama and whether it be Narcos and El Chapo or Medici and Roots, there’s something uniquely powerful about a real-life story played out on the big or small screen that just can’t be replicated by a fantastical script. Step forward Monzón, a 13 episode Argentinian drama that follows the tumultuous life of acclaimed boxer Carlos Monzón. With split focus between his past upbringing and present time in prison, Monzón is a gritty, methodically paced series that does well to keep things consistent throughout its run-time.
At the heart of this drama, and to which everything inevitably revolves around, is Carlos’ late wife Alicia Muñiz. Found dead after being pushed out the balcony, Carlos is inevitably the number 1 suspect and what follows is a two-way investigation – one in the present with Prosecutor Gustavo Parisi gathering evidence and eye-witness accounts and the other with the real-life story of Carlos told through the years. Along with this investigation, the story also follows the star-studded career of this boxer too, from his early days training with Amilcar Brusa through to rising to the top of the fighting pack and competing for the belt.
For the most part these stories remain separate and harmoniously bounce off one another throughout the series. All of this builds up to the final few episodes that sees everything come together for Carlos’ trial and the real events of what happened that fateful night Alicia died. Although some may find the episodes a little overlong, especially combined with the methodical pacing that takes its time building up to the crux of drama, for the most part the show does well to shine a light on this boxer’s rise to the top and troubled marriage in the shadows.
Stylistically, the series does well to pepper in a mix of archival shots and news reports with a blend of past and present scenes. The jumps between time periods are well placed too and keep the show moving forward, even if some of the long shots feel like they go on a tad too long. It’s a minor point, and a personal preference more than an actual deterrent to the show, but the action in the ring is brutal and well-choreographed which more than makes up for this.
There’s a great use of sound during these segments too and a memorable example of this comes late on during a momentous match with Valdez. The sound cuts out during a crucial moment before crashing back in with dizzying hip hop and slow-motion punches cutting back and forth through time. It’s these stylish moments that help Monzón stand out, especially juxtaposed next to the more pedestrian drama with the investigation.
Jorge Román deserves some plaudits here too for his portrayal of Carlos Monzón which perfectly captures the inner demons this man faced during his life. From the mannerisms and strained expressions through to the actual work in-ring, Jorge has some great stand-out moments. That’s not taking anything away from the rest of the cast of course; each do a great job with the lines they’re given and together make this biographical drama all the more believable and enjoyable.
Overall then, Monzón is well worth a watch. The episodes may feel a tad slow at times, especially early on, but once this one picks up momentum, the show does well to keep this going right the way through to the dramatic finale. The action is well-shot, the dual timelines keep things interesting and the captivating performance from Jorge Román is enough to keep you watching through to the end. While it may not have the heaviest punch in the ring, Monzon does have that knockout blow needed to make this a real winner.
Verdict - 8/10