Boxing is a sport that often brings out the very best in athletes. It is a controlled battle between two individuals where a coveted title is concerned and the moniker “champion” is bestowed on the victor. Filipino fighting sensation Manny Pacquiao has made headlines for his pound-for-pound progression, his fierce fists, and last but certainly least, his immense heart. The new documentary Manny takes an in-depth look into the famed boxer’s life from his humble upbringing to this worldwide celebrity. It is a film that shines a light on a talented man who basically rose from rags to riches.

The story of Pacquiao starts in the Philippines where we are shown images of his village where he was born and spent his childhood. He came from a poor family, living in hut in the woods. By the time he was 16-years-old, he began participating in boxing matches. At 5’6 and weighing under 100 pounds, Pacquiao wasn’t exactly a hulking brute but he did however have a quickness about him and a ferocity seen only in champions. In Manny, we see how the boxing legend transformed his life and his family’s by punching his way to the top. He has earned significant celebrity and his talents have even extended to local politics, having been elected to the Philippine House of Representatives at the age of 32.

Documentaries can sometimes be dull and uninteresting but Manny is far from boring. The film moves at a brisk pace, much like Pacquiao’s fighting style. Archival footage and photographs show the man’s life in vivid detail and various celebrity interviews from the likes of Mark Whalberg and Jeremy Piven only serve to enhance the quality of the film as well as showing off Pacquiao’s universal appeal. Liam Neeson also offers his unique voice to the narration of Manny and as always, it is very much welcome indeed. These swanky elements make the film stand out among other documentaries and fans of the boxer and of interesting documentaries in general should give this one a look.

Manny was directed by two very competent men. Those men are veteran filmmaker Leon Gast (When We Were Kings, Smash His Camera) and newcomer Ryan Moore. Their film tells a great story, a story of someone who beat the odds and really made something of himself. The passion and dedication these two directors poured into their film is extraordinary and quite honestly, truly refreshing. Underdog stories almost always score well with audiences and Manny is no exception. Even if you aren’t a fan of the popular boxer, you will find his tale to be quite fascinating.

Hollywood boxing pictures are all pretty much the same in terms of formula and that basic story skeleton is seen here in Manny. Though it’s a documentary, this film feels like larger than life epic. Pacquiao’s journey is documented excellently and the editing brings all of the archival footage, interviews, and music together brilliantly, giving audiences an entertaining and illuminating look at one of boxing history’s greatest contenders.

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