Review: ‘The King’

A casually engaging, matter-of-fact docu about champion one-legged Paralympic shot-putter Darko Kralj, Croatian helmer Dejan Acimovic's "The King" eschews earnest eyewitness testimonials to its subject's courage and determination, allowing the amiable Kralj's competence to speak for itself as he hunts, picks up his kids from school, feeds farm animals, gets fitted for a new prosthetic or practices for another championship meet. Revelatory for the disabled and entertaining for the rest of us, "King" could reign over niche and cable play.

A casually engaging, matter-of-fact docu about champion one-legged Paralympic shot-putter Darko Kralj, Croatian helmer Dejan Acimovic’s “The King” eschews earnest eyewitness testimonials to its subject’s courage and determination, allowing the amiable Kralj’s competence to speak for itself as he hunts, picks up his kids from school, feeds farm animals, gets fitted for a new prosthetic or practices for another championship meet. Revelatory for the disabled and entertaining for the rest of us, “King” could reign over niche and cable play.

Kralj’s extraordinary athletic feats, including being the only man to establish a world record five times in a single event, are recounted with few caveats about his “specialness.” For his coach, the impairment only registers insofar as it requires positional adjustments. For his oldest son, draping Dad’s seemingly endless medals around his neck, Kralj’s heroism is unconditional. Remarkably cheerful and energetic, he rarely dwells on losses, though Acimovic shows him watching a tape of his gravely wounded younger self being evacuated from a war zone. Only a closeup of Kralj’s eyes as he reads an account of a rival’s suicide hints at the pain and trauma he survived.

The King

Croatia

Production

A DA Films production in co-production with Croatian Television. Produced by Dejan Acimovic. Executive producer, Tatjana Acimovic. (International sales: DA Film and Video Co., Zagreb.) Directed by Dejan Acimovic.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Dario Hacek; editor, Vladimir Gojun; music, Livio Morosin. Reviewed online, New York, Nov. 20, 2012. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Darko Kralj, Ivan Ivancic.

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