THE TWO ESCOBARS | Film Reviews | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly


Thursday, Oct 28 2010

THE TWO ESCOBARS In a 1994 World Cup game against the U.S., Colombian soccer superstar Andre Escobar scored a decisive goal — against his own team. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist's documentary The Two Escobars begins with that crushing landmark sports moment, and then backs up to fill in the details of the parallel trajectories of the soccer star and that other famous son of Medellin with the same surname (but not bloodline), drug kingpin Pablo Escobar. Andre joined the Nacional team at the dawn of its brief heyday. The nation had never been a real contender internationally, and grew so fast, says one of the players, that "people were suspicious." Turns out they had every right to be: As the Zimbalists prove by cross-cutting between Andre's and Pablo's rises and falls, the gangster, driven by a genuine love for football as well as a need to "legalize big heaps of cash," had a hands-on role in his country's athletic ascendancy, whether by footing the bill for neighborhood fields or assassinating unfriendly referees. Combining archival footage (including TV broadcasts of games, graphic crime-scene tape and what appear to be Medellin gang home movies) with new talking-head interviews (crisply shot and impressively candid), the Zimbalists tell their stories methodically, letting tension mount until the end. A stranger to this story will guess how it ends by virtue of the fact that neither Andre nor Pablo appears in current-day footage, but nonetheless, The Two Escobars ends up being quite the nail-biter. (Karina Longworth) (Music Hall)

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