"The action moves at a breakneck pace and there are moments of dark comedy that leaven the grim subject matter."
It opens with the pumping strains of D-12's Fight Music as the super fit fighters at a Brisbane boxing gym limber up under the watchful eye of diminutive, Miyagi-like trainer Luke (Margi Brown-Ash). On this stage — a white square of canvas overhung by a Jumbotron — the story of child soldier-turned-Congolese refuge- turned Australian light heavyweight title challenger Isa, aka "Steve The Killer" (Pacharo Mzembe), plays out.
In Prize Fighter, playwright Future D Fidel cleverly frames the life story of Isa through the lens of two boxing matches. As the opponents duck and weave around each other, the threads of Isa's youth are woven into the fabric of the play. His family butchered, eight-year-old Isa falls under the thrall of a twisted "mentor" for years before finally escaping into Kenya and thence to Australia, where he joins a gym and finds a talent for fighting. Mzembe's performance is powerful and punchy and you can see the inner turmoil as he battles the inner bloodlusting street-fighting killer he was forced to become and tries to become a disciplined champion.
The script is often rough, but the action moves at a breakneck pace and there are moments of dark comedy that leaven the grim subject matter. It's all the more moving considering.
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