Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story

Ring Of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story (2005)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Extras: Commentary Track, Outtakes, Interviews

Slightly controversial and not easily forgotten account of the world title boxing match between Emile Griffith and rival Benny "Kid" Paret, in the documentary, "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story". Director's Dan Klores and Ron Berger combine great interviews including; Emile Griffith himself, Paret's widow and son, sports writers and commentators from the original fight, along with good archival footage of the actual fight in question.

In New York City on March 24, 1962, the boxing match-up between Griffith and Paret would turn out to be Paret's final fight, after receiving several repeated blows to his head, causing him to slip into a coma and eventually die from his injuries, giving Griffith the title win by a knockout. What makes this story a little different is the fact that only a few nights earlier, Paret allegedly made a suggestive comment towards Griffith about his sexual preference and causing, what many consider being, revenge fuelled rage brought on by Griffith in the ring that night. The filmmaker's manage to capture a delicate balance of the brutality of the fight in discussion, along with an emotional Griffith and his life-long regret for taking a man's life, which he feels was not intentional. Regardless of your personal opinions, nobody could argue the fact that this dark day in boxing history, forever changed the innocence of sport in America.

Anchor Bay Entertainment brings this 2005 Sundance Film Festival nominee for the Grand Jury Prize, "Ring of Fire: The Emile Griffith Story" to DVD. Nicely presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer, which for the most part, was free from any visible compression artifacts or edge enhancements. Commenting on the actual archival footage would be unfair to this documentary, as it appears that every effort was made to present the dated material as pristine as possible and given the age of the source material, you tend to overlook its shortcomings. Colors were well saturated to provide natural appearing flesh-tones and blacks managed to remain rich in depth, providing good detail, during recently filmed interview segments.

The soundtrack is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 presentation and not in the 5.1 that was mentioned on the completed packaging. For this type of presentation, a 2.0 sound mix was more than appropriate, providing good balance and detail that exhibited naturally appearing vocals. The archival footage was slightly distorted in reproduction, but managed to meld with the overall production.

Extra features include; a full-length audio commentary from director's Dan Klores and Ron Berger, with a good assortment of deleted scenes, combined with outtakes of further interviews not present in the final documentary.

Boxing or sports fans in general will find this documentary to be a good history lesson on one of the more talked about moments in the history of the sport.