The Power of One
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Time Out saysA glossy adaptation of Bryce Courtenay's novel, set in '30s South Africa, where orphaned PK (latterly played by Dorff) experiences both the privileges and privations of his strife-ridden society. Set upon in boarding-school because he is the only English boy among Afrikaners, he falls back on the friendship of kindly German composer/botanist Doc (Müller-Stahl). But the outbreak of war brings further conflict: the British imprison Doc, and PK's visits introduce him to the brutality inflicted on black prisoners. It's there that proud, resourceful Geel Piet (Freeman) takes the boy in hand, teaching him to box and transforming him into a champion. Avildsen draws good performances from the three actors who play PK, as well as from the ever-reliable Freeman and Müller-Stahl, but subtlety is abandoned when he focuses on the ring and teen romance. The climax is a slugging match between PK and a former school bully which would make Rocky proud.