Monzón: A Knockout Blow – Netflix Season 1 Review


 

Season 1

Episode Guide

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9
Episode 10
Episode 11
Episode 12
Episode 13

 

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.

 


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1 thought on “Monzón: A Knockout Blow – Netflix Season 1 Review”

  1. This is a very well-directed and acted story that’s been told many times, but not with so much cultural context as in this production. Monzon goes from poverty to a crass world of wealth and fame (a world too many people equate with success) and of course he does not find what he needs. He is never satisfied, and never learns to articulate his dissatisfaction because he believes that world — all about material success (which includes the most expensive objects, including women) — ought to satisfy when it can’t, because Monzon’s emotional maturity ends when he gets there. ‘Monzon’ doesn’t judge but simply, yet through many points of view, attempts to illustrate, for the most part successfully, how empty of meaning a champion’s life can be, pursued as one big party. And within that drama the viewer sees the impossibility of women in his life making Monzon happy and content. For one thing, they too are individuals, with needs and expectations he can’t tolerate. So many marriages fall apart, often violently and some fatally, in these conflicts, in a culture that makes men’s needs paramount. The final scenes were the hardest to watch, because they reenact the futility, frustration and violence of people who do not know how to express their thoughts and feelings without hurting each other. I found this film so difficult to watch at times, I had to hide my eyes. But I admire its creators’ sincerity and artistry.

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