The Champ (1979) Poster

(1979)

User Reviews

Review this title
54 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
10/10
A true tearjerker, I have never cried so much in a film
traceyames1722 September 2002
This is arguably Jon Voight's finest acting performance with the possible exception of The Odessa File.

Jon Voight plays Billy Flynn an ex boxing champion with Ricky Shroder playing his eight year old son, T.J Flynn. Billy Flynn is now a horse trainer bringing up his son after a divorce some seven years ago when T.J. was just a baby. Billy loves a drink and is addicted to gambling and bringing up his son does have problems.

The problems intensify when his ex-wife, now remarried, appears on the scene to see her son after seven long years. T.J. knows her only as Annie and is played by Faye Dunaway. Annie starts to come between Billy and T.J even though T.J has undying love for his father. As Billy gets further into trouble, his only way of securing a life for his son is to make one last come-back into the boxing ring.

The film is very poignant, emotional and has so many sad sequences. Poor T.J. is constantly in tears and whenever his tears flowed, so did mine. The Champ is a superb movie, a must see, and although over 20 years old, still has a place today. The problems that existed then, still exist today. Booze, gambling, single parentage, divorce and reconciliation. Only the clothing fashions are different.
36 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Excellent
The_Core13 July 2002
After seeing this movie again (it's been over 20 years), I can't think of enough positive things to say about it. The honesty of the script tends to overcome any sense of melodrama, and it turns out to be a 10-hanky tearjerker. The acting is great all around as well. I didn't know what I'd think since it's been so long, and was a bit surprised to find this film has lost nothing in the intervening years -- if anything, it views even better than it did when it was released. I'm also a bit surprised to see it so far down on the IMDB ratings chart. Almost too painful to watch at times (maybe that's why).

9/10
29 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the best I have ever seen! A must for the top 250!
glotgering10 March 2007
I cannot believe the rating this movie is only a 5.8. Have they seen the same movie as I have? I have watched "The Champ" several times and every time I cry even when I know what is going to happen. It is a story of a retired boxer and his son and the love the boy has for his father would be any father's dream. Even though the father has his faults (like we all do) he loves his son and tries to give his son a better life. I was just shocked at the rating and was compelled to vote. Usually the IMDb community gets it right but in this case they are dead wrong. 10 all they way!!! Great! Super! and very emotional. My whole family cried including my dog.
27 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of the most heart-rending films in the history of films
aj7514 July 2002
I first watched this film in 1980 as a five year old with my gran and we managed to distort the credits through our tears and sobbing. I received the video about four years ago, and as a twenty-two year old it had the same effect. Last night, I watched the Champ with my girlfriend and I am happy to say that the years haven't mellowed me and we were both in floods of tears before I switched the film off. I defy anybody who has an emotional bone in their body not to be touched by the story of Billy Flynn, and more importantly TJ. I won't give any of the storyline away as it will make it all the better for watching if you haven't seen it. As for me, I can't wait until the Champ get's it DVD release as I will be first in the queue.

"I want the Champ !"
35 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Very disappointed...
...with the rating of this masterpiece. A 5.8/10? -_- I am upset about this.

What you have here is an epic movie that deserves a 9/10. It's the story of the love between a boy and his father, and the boy trying to make it on his own when his mother and father can't.

The movie starts out very big on horse-racing, showing how Jon Voight, "The Champ", is and gives brief glimpses into his past life. After awhile though, his whole past comes back to him when his son unknowingly meets his mother and develops a bond with her. Conflict between him and his wife rises and we see even deeper into what was a merely a shell of his life in the beginning of the film; he is complicated and emotionally bruised man, snapping sometimes at his son that he loves with all his heart.

The film has the most believable performances I have ever seen on screen, and is a tearjerker. But it doesn't try to make you cry once; the entire second half of the film is full of these scenes. Some work while others don't. Either way, it shows the true power and delicacy of unconditional love, and the way it ends leaves you gasping for breath because of the emotional impact it leaves. Not perfect, but it deserves a solid 9.0/10.
33 out of 41 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
an emotional masterpiece
sinnerofcinema22 October 2004
Unlike many of the critics who saw this movie and hated it, obviously these so called "film critics" must be jaded wanna be filmmakers who never made it, and have not truly found the meaning of film-making to date. Sorry for them. This motion picture is what makes cinema so great. It is the extremely emotional content and story, not the mere technicalities or flaws that makes this movie great. I saw this film 25 years ago and I remember a theaters completely in tears. I saw this movie again just recently on HBO and as hard as you tried, it was impossible to hold back tears, specially at the end. I don't know who these movie critics are nor where they come from, but they certainly have much to learn from this film.
31 out of 39 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Another Classic !
turbomr213 February 1999
In the whelm of movies that typify that perfect father-son relationship, this is one of the best. The emotions were incredibly well played out, and I can feel the anger and frustration of being the father in T.J.'s situation. Ricky Schroder's performance is convincing beyond many other young talents, and the drama is a stunning contrast of conflict, but not necessarily any resolution. The Champ is truly the quintessential example of the love between father and son, one which I can only hope to be able to show with my children.
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The Champ is one of the Greatest Films ever
mesamood2 April 2005
The Champ is the most beautiful Father & Son story I have ever seen. The films emotional ending will go down in history as the saddest scene ever on film. Rick Schroder is amazing. A must see!!! Jon Voight is extremely convincing as a retired prize fighter. He also looks like Rick Schroders Father. Faye Dunaway come s off well. The director Zeffereli is a amazing story teller. You may have scene his Mac Beth with Mel Gibson. Rent this when you want to really feel some strong emotion. Rick Schroder was cast to stardom from it. It might just make you call your father and say I love you. More films need to made like this. It seems Hollywood is interested in special effects movies and they have forgotten the heart. On a separate note, Rick Schroder just made his own boxing film called "Black Cloud"it is also amazing and has tons of heart, The boxing scenes in Schroders film are the best I have ever seen. The same boxing coach from the champ worked on Schroders BLACK CLOUD. DVD comes out June 7th for Black Cloud.
17 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
The most EMOTIONAL movie ever made, A 10-hanky MUST-SEE!
scoobyg6913 March 2000
Once upon a time, when I was 10 years old, my father took me from playing with my friends to see this movie called "The Champ." And now, I can't wait to share it with MY children. Truly, the most EMOTIONAL movie I've ever seen. Jon Voight plays the role of ex-Boxing champion Billy Flynn who attempts a comeback to help his son. Ricky Schroder is the object of affection from his down-on-his-luck father, AND his rich mother (Faye Dunaway)who deserted him many years ago. The conflict between the parents is so painfully realistic, but it's Ricky's acting performance as T.J. that steals the show and your heart. Have SEVERAL boxes of tissue handy when viewing this film, because there are MANY scenes that will draw tears from the hardest of hearts. NO ONE can sit through this film and not be affected by the emotional impact, unless they are just a cold-hearted, unloving, uncareing person. I rate this one a 10-hanky MUST-SEE!
15 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Cry much?
Boyo-215 July 1999
If you are not in tears at the end of this movie, go see the Wizard, cause you have no heart!

Cute little Ricky Schroder acts his --- off in this drama, which is a tad overdone in spots, but it is so sad that if you are embarrassed to cry in front of other people, see it alone.
21 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
'Sport, Fathers and Death' the holy trinity for tears …
ElMaruecan828 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I don't remember the name of the journalist who spoke this statement, but I want to say a big amen to that, as my saddest movie involves all these three factors, I know they might sound a little too male-oriented but I'm pretty sure it at least touched upon two branches of this trinity for female audiences, can't women also respond to the sight of a little grief-stricken boy inconsolably crying over the loss of his father, and making grown-up men weep as well?

I want to open this review by saying that "The Champ" holds a very special place in my heart, if only because it might be the first live-action movie I remember seeing as a (6-year old) kid, and for some strange reason, of all the scenes from the film, I was more impacted by the sight of blood, a disturbing novelty for my kiddies' eyes (the sparring partner, the horse's injury and the scary sight of Billy's opponent shouting at him). 4 years later, I saw it and every one was bawling in the TV room, everyone but me, mostly amused by these reactions. The Youtube clips many years later finally had their effect, but even then I knew I had to experience the whole film to measure up the extent of its emotionality.

So I did and I can't believe someone who despises the overuse of superlatives like me would indulge himself to such a clichéd statement but this is indeed the saddest movie ever, with the climactic locker-room scene as the most defining moment. Adapted from a 1931 movie directed by King Vidor, "The Champ", is about a father-and-son relationship, an extraordinary sacred link between Billy Flynn (Jon Voight), an ex-Heavyweight Boxing Champion who reconverted in horse-training, and his 8-year old blond-haired angel-faced son: T.J. (Ricky Shroeder). To say that T.J. loves his father would be a huge understatement; he literally worships him to the point of calling him 'Champ' instead of 'Dad'. I can recall considering my father a true model when I was a kid, I can easily respond to the sight of a kid who admires his father the way T.J. does, especially since this adoration is the build-up that cements the final scene's emotionality.

A few words about Ricky Schroeder's performance: it's absolutely refreshing to see a child acting like a real one, not too mature or annoying, Ricky Shroeder delivers in "The Champ" one of the finest pieces of child acting ever, on the same vein than Jackie Coogan in "The Kid", any kids' performance pale in comparison to little Ricky that year and I can't believe his performance was overlooked by the Academy Awards (while he was awarded a Golden Globe for Best Male Newcomer). The irony is that the same year, an even younger kid was nominated for a similar role; it was Justin Henry as Billy in "Kramer vs. Kramer". I guess Henry was favored in regard of the film's commercial success and the fact that his character was more 'complex', but let's face it, even Justin Henry wouldn't claim to have made millions of people all over the world cry like Ricky did.

The parallel with "Kramer vs. Kramer" can be extended to the father and boy's situation. The mother Annie (Faye Dunaway) left, Billy had the custody and every thing went fine, despite some financial and gambling problems, until Annie showed up again and expressed her desire to take part again in her son's life, her son who thinks his mother died. The film takes then the emotional start with the most simple plot premise and it only avoid cliché's annoyances thanks to the beautiful performance of Ricky Schroeder. Indeed, every single moment work and it almost seems like the adult actors did their best to match Ricky's incredible acting, and I believe that Jon Voight deserved more accolades for his performance.

The film contains some of the most emotional moments you'll ever see, reaching a first pinnacle with three powerful scenes in a row: a heart-breaking father-and-son conversation in jail, T.J. learning that Annie is not a "little angel in the sky" and his outburst of enraged cries when she can't even say that she loves 'Champ', and then the reunion with Billy, hell even the happier moments are unbelievably sad, with little T.J. and his father swimming on the beach (mirroring a previous scene with Annie). It's so effective that I dare even the most skeptical movie viewers to label this film as manipulative. Franco Ziffereli's directing is relatively sober and the music not too over-emotional, so if anything is manipulative, then it has to be a little 8-year old actor's performance, would you believe he'd have this intention?

To conclude, I sincerely don't think any film would have as a powerful emotional impact as "The Champ"'s final scene. Sticking with my own conviction, I even googled the title of the film and the words 'saddest ever' and to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that some scientists after many studies found out that the film could be considered as the saddest ever from the way people were immediately responding to its most emotional scenes (notably the final one). Many readers mentioned titles such as "Bambi", "Brian's Song", "Schindler's List", "Terms of Endearment" or "Grave of the Fireflies" but I think they missed the point of the study which was less about giving a title than determining the most likely film to induce one particular reaction among the majority, in that case: crying.

I remember my father told me that after watching the film in the theater, everyone was weeping and sneezing, he recommended the film to his toughest friends challenging them not to cry, but at the end, they were all bawling like little girls. Like it or not, it deserves the title of 'emotional masterpiece' and I don't think any rational critic will convince me to give it a 'reasonable' rating.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
one of the saddest films ever made
PandoraProductions427 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Champ is by far the saddest film I have ever seen. If you want to cry your eyes out, this is the film for you. It follows the story of Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) , an ex-boxer who is struggling to make a life for himself and his young son (Ricky Schroder) . Billy is very well played by Voight; he has just the right mix of tough guy and loving father.

Faye Dunaway and Jack Warden both do a good job in their roles as well, but Ricky Schroder steals the show, in one of the finest performances from a child actor ever. The last 10 minutes of the film are guaranteed to make even the most hardened people weep.

The director of the film, Franco Zeffirelli, is known for his film adaptations of Shakespeare plays, and indeed this film feels like it would make a good play.

With a charming score by Dave Grusin, and some beautiful cinematography, it's a wonder how more people haven't seen this film.

I recommend it to anyone willing to bring a set of Kleenex along!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The Champ is a Great film and SO much more!
TonyLeone3236010 May 2013
Some movies touch us in ways that are beyond description. The Champ is such a film. As far as a genre I guess its a sports movie. But really a story about life, human emotions and the bond between father and son. Billy Flynn (Jon Voight) is a former boxing champion who is down but no out. He now works as a horse walker/trainer. When this film was made, you didn't hear of many men being single fathers. Billy is just that. To his dismay he was divorced from his wife Annie (Faye Dunaway) after she left them to pursue a career. He told his son TJ (Ricky Schroder) that she had been killed in an accident and was a now a beautiful angel. Billy is a good man, but like many men he has his faults. He drinks and he gambles. But he is doing his best to raise TJ. One evening he has a $3400 lucky streak and buys TJ a horse, She's A Lady. Now 8 year old TJ owns a race horse. As he was preparing for the filly's first race, unknowingly TJ and Annie meet. She's a Lady is running well and battles for the lead only to fall down the stretch. Annie watches as TJ runs to aid his horse and discovers Billy is close behind. She then figures out TJ is her son Timmy. Annie confronts Billy after the race wanting to know more about her son. But Billy is still bitter and does not feel the need to grant this request. Life goes on with Billy's demons on his back. Old habits are hard to break, during an unlucky streak he loses all his money and owes $2000 more. He has 48 hours to pay or he loses TJs horse. Annie is now wealthy and bails Billy out. However instead of taking the money, the bookie decides he "likes the idea of being a horse owner." This infuriates Billy so much he commits an assault that lands him in the clink. In an intense jail scene, he tells TJ that he is "a pain in the butt, always nagging him, telling him not to drink and gamble." Billy wants TJ to live with Annie but he wants no part of it. Calling his dad a liar gets TJ slapped and sent on his way. But Billy has yet to tell him the real truth about his new friend.

America has bestowed one great gift to the world, Hollywood. Many great films have been made. In my opinion The Champ is one of the best and deserves a MUCH higher IMDb rating than 6.3. If there has ever been a movie to deserve a perfect 10, this is it. Now that I have set the story up for you, take 2 hours of your life and watch. But let me caution everyone, unless you have a heart of stone, this film will not only pull your heart strings. It will tear them out. Young Ricky Schroder gives the performance of a lifetime and is backed up by the stellar work of Jon Voight and beautiful Faye Dunaway.

Its a great at home date movie to watch with a new lady friend. So get a bucket of popcorn, a box of tissues and get ready for a film you will NEVER forget. This is a great story that leaves us sobbing at the end! A 100% definite 10/10!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Tearjerker!!
triggergotstuffed7 January 2013
Just watched this film again after many, many, years and it still packs an emotional wallop! Maybe more so, now that I am older and view it in a different light. I always felt that Rick Schroeder did a great job in this film however the true acting chops were offered by Jon Voight. What an incredibly believable job. Not for a second was I taken out of the film. The rest of the cast are a who's who of character actors that have appeared in many other films. I found this to be better than the original, especially with the two leads. I don't remember what the film was up against in regard to the academy Awards, however I am surprised that Jon and Rick were not nominated. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favour and watch it. You will be entertained and, most likely, emotionally drained. But you are definitely in for a treat!
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Teary Eyed
cb_roache14 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you're a bloke and you don't like the idea of anybody seeing you cry, watch this film on your own. Yes it is that sad.

Really well made and brilliant performances all round, the kid TJ is one of the sweetest kids I've ever seen on screen, absolutely adorable with bags of talent.

John Voight was brilliant as well as a down on his luck ex boxer who's just trying to make a good life for himself and his son. The story is one that I'm sure many can relate with, whether you're a single parent, have a great relationship with your father or can simply appreciate a film with strong acting. If you have a son that loves you as much as TJ loved 'the champ' your very lucky and should treat each day as your last.

The only other film that had me welling up like this was the Imitation of Life also well worth a look , but have tissues to hand! This review is coming from a cynical bloke too! CBR
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
The film is simply "EXCELLENT" !!!
athang210 July 2014
I don't have much to say. This film is simply excellent in all its parts. The story, the recitations, the mood, the photos and all other parts are simply excellent. A must see film from the gold 70ies era, overshadowed by the film "kramer vs. kramer" which is produced the same time and maybe for some reasons (economic and social) was published much more the film kramer than the champ. I believe that the main reason is that the champ is going against the rich world of famous (like Annie the T.J. mother) and promote the poor but rich heart of t.j. father : the champ gives his entire life to win and give all the money for a home and education to his children who grew from the fist days of life. Get it and watch it !!!
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
See this movie If you want to weep...
jyskymail14 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Looking T.J.'s tear, Hearing Dave Grusin's music, I cannot stop weeping. I think a directing is not good enough, but the player is the best for this movie. And Dave Grusin's music is match to this movie.

The Champ is a movie, moving my heart. I summarized this movie story in a few minutes.

See below link.

http://youtu.be/hYOLrRwMf3w

For the dream of son... Not to leave T.J. again...

Dad steps into the ring again. And, He shows the greatest match which rings T.J.'s mind.

Father's love. That is stronger than death. His love is forever.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
They Don't do movies like this anymore
egomez7 March 1999
I was 9 when I first saw this movie and still remember trying to hold my tears at the movie theather. This movie is now one of my favorite memories from my childhood. What else can I say?
6 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Brilliant....
writetostephengatley19 November 2009
This film is one of the few films underrated for no good reason. Being a media student, i really loved the film. The theme is good but the screenplay is even better. Though it is a 1970's movie... it really holds your attention. The acting was remarkable. I have no idea why this movie has a rating of only 6.1 .... The theme is a kinda similar to that of "The Wrestler", though the story line is different but former is a little more realistic than the latter ... This film definitely deserves an Oscar. It was a hit during those days but now the movie has lost its popularity. Do not go by how old the movie is ... It is BEAUTIFUL!!!
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Teardripping
steinw29 April 2002
If you don't have a tear in your eye when the movie ends, then your heart is made of stone!!!

The story is real good, it proves that it isn't always the mother who has all the love for their children.
4 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
One of my all time favorite movies.
Griffinkay14 November 2004
This movie has been accused of being overly-sentimental. That's probably true. Nonetheless, I am unable to watch this movie without crying. Jon Voight plays an ex-boxing champion raising his young boy (played by a stellar Ricky Schroder). I think Jon Voight is very good in this film (and I'm not a huge Jon Voight fan), and I think the young Schroder (who was seven, I believe, when he made this film) is fantastic. I find Faye Dunaway (who plays the boy's estranged mother) slightly annoying, but I forgive her because I love the film itself so much. I think Franco Zefferelli's direction is superb, and I enjoy much of the cinematography. I think the relationship between Voight and Schroder is particularly touching, and there are several scenes between them that bring me to tears. I really do give this movie a ten.
5 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
It was Great!
GOWBTW11 November 2006
This movie is a real gem. "The Champ" is like the modern-day version of "Paper Moon". Only closer to the heart. Jon Voight plays a boxer who meets his son for the first time, and boy does he have a mouth. Voight plays Billy Flynn, a boxer who gets to meet his son T.J.(Rick Schroder, "Silver Spoons") this kid owned a fine horse, and he made sure that horse is taken care of. It was shocking to see a 9-year-old say "bullsh--" good and loud. I wondered who made him say that. Then there's the beach scene which is memorable. They were going for a swim in the ocean, and he tells his son, "Pull up your trunks, we ain't getting arrested for nude bathing!" Father and son should have family time every time and Billy has did his best being a good father the best he can. Though champion will fall down at times, that doesn't mean he's a total loser. He was born a champion, and will die a champion. He did just that. T.J. denied his death, he may just do that, but he knows he's alive in one place that can never die, His heart. This movie means a lot in every way, and it can be used educationally. Trust me it's worth it! 4.5 out of 5 stars!
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A four Kleenex movie
tnc8027 January 2006
I watched The Cinderella Man with my kids and we all cried. We liked Million Dollar Baby and Seabiscuit, too. It occurred to me that they might like The Champ. None of them were even a "twinkle in my eye" when the movie came out. I've enjoyed other things that Rick Schroeder is in also. I'm not real keen on Jon Voight or Faye Dunaway, but little Ricky absolutely MAKES this movie. Does anyone know where I could buy a copy of it? I've looked in several video stores and can't rent it any longer. I've checked a couple of movie stores, to no avail. I'm thinking that I may have to buy it personally. I don't even get any responses on E-BAY, imagine that ! If any one has a copy that they'd part with, I'd be glad to buy it. Otherwise, maybe someone knows another on'line site where I could look. Thanks.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Four hankie (or double sheet) emotional movie.
lanzafan16 May 2002
I was 40 when I first saw "The Champ." I had just gone through a messy divorce and was taken out to make me forget my problems. I am not ashamed to say that I cried for days and still do, whenever I put on my video of this mini-masterpiece.Jon Voigt, always worth double the price of admission is wonderful, but Ricky Schroder steals every scene in which he appears. The score, by Dave Grushin is haunting and beautiful. I read that Zefferelli was in U.K. to make another film, when he saw the original "Champ" on TV. He was so impressed, that he started the ball rolling to make the 1979 version. A milestone. When I get depressed, I watch it. It makes me value life and people. Joan Blondell died soon after completing the movie and Strother Martin died the next year. One of my all-time favourites and always will be. The best performance by a juvenile I have ever seen.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Moving - could definitely see again
ozone19 April 2003
We studied this film at school in the late 80s and I was really taken with it then, especially with the little boy and his estranged mother (the latter played by the lovely Faye Dunnaway). Seeing it now 15 or so years later I was no less enthralled.
4 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed