‘Gensan Punch’: It’s the fights outside the ring that matter

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Boxing movies typically feature outside-the-ring obstacles. Whether or not the hero wins the big final bout, they must first face whatever stands in the way of possible victory, beginning with fitness and technique, or rather their lack of. Thus, the semi-obligatory training scenes.

Inspired by a true story, Brillante Mendoza’s “Gensan Punch” gives its hero what must be the most fundamental obstacle of all. Disabled from childhood and fighting with a prosthetic leg, Nao Tsuyama (the single-named Shogen) is repeatedly denied a boxing license by the boxing commission in his native Okinawa, which cites the “extreme danger” the leg poses in the ring. That is, he is defeated by stiff-necked officials before he ever lays a glove on an opponent.

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