South Korean filmmakers continue to spread their wings, with the boxing film “Champion” landing in Los Angeles for a weeklong shoot, which began Friday.
Several thousand local extras have been booked as ringside spectators for the true-life tale of Korean fighter Kim Deuk-gu, who doggedly went 14 rounds against Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1982 before collapsing into a coma from a fatal blow.
In February, the production filmed for several days in Las Vegas, but the climatic match is being re-created at a site in the San Fernando Valley. The remainder of the $5 million film will be shot in South Korea. American Matt Phillips plays Mancini and Yoo Oh-sung portrays Kim.
Biopic’s director, Kwak Kyung-taek, who was 15 at the time of the fight, said the bout left an indelible impression on him.
Last year, Kwak’s gangster-themed feature “Friend” became the all-time top grosser in South Korea, generating some 8.2 million admissions. (“Titanic,” the most successful import to date, drew 4.5 million.)
“Champion” is a Zininsa Film production with major financing provided by Korea Pictures.