© Telepool/Paramount

King Richard
U.S.A. 2021

Opening 24 Feb 2022

Directed by: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Writing credits: Zach Baylin
Principal actors: Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton

King Richard opens in Compton, California, where Richard Williams (Will Smith) lives with his second wife Oracene “Brandy” (Aunjanue Ellis) and five daughters; three are from Oracene’s first marriage, and two, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singelton), are their mutual daughters. Williams trains young Venus and Serena on their neighborhood tennis courts. Often gangs drive by in an attempt to attract the attention of the girls, even fighting with Richard when he interferes to protect them. As they improve in the game of tennis, he hires professional trainers such as Vic Braden (Kevin Dunn), Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal), and Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn), who also trained winners such as John McEnroe and Pete Sampras. These trainers are often forced to listen to suggestions, as well as demands, from Richard, who considers himself the actual top coach, the “King,” and says, “I’m in the champion-raising business.” He is always at the side of Venus and Serena encouraging them and advising, “Don’t brag; stay humble” or “Who doesn’t plan, plans to fail.” At age 14 Venus is set to win her first important tournament; companies begin to offer sponsorship. Williams resists the first offers, anticipating higher intake as the girls slide towards the top.

The film is based on Williams’ 2014 autobiography Black and White: The Way I see it. German tennis player Steffi Graf is mentioned one time as a worthy example to follow. Venus and Serena are not only special for their talents, but also for being the first black tennis players to start on the courts, eventually to reach championships. They won repeatedly every well-known competition, such as the Australian Open, The French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open, as well as Olympic gold medals.  It only takes four minutes into the film to realize that we have made a good choice to watch for the next 140 minutes. King Richard is based on real people with excellent actors and a positive story which could be an example for all. It has been nominated for over 100 awards, winning more than 25 of them, including the Golden Globe to Will Smith for best actor in a drama. (Becky Tan)

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